Brandi Chastain, whose penalty kick gave the United States the 1999 Women's World Cup title, has pledged her brain for concussion research. The 47-year-old Chastain announced her donation to the Massachusetts-based Concussion Legacy Foundation on Thursday. Upon her death, her brain will go to the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, a joint project with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University School of Medicine. "It is really about: How I can help impact soccer beyond scoring a goal in 1999 in the World Cup final. Can I do something more to leave soccer in a better place than it was when I began this wonderful journey with this game?" she said.
Researchers are studying the postmortem human brain and spinal cord tissue in hopes of diagnosing and treating chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative condition caused by a blow or blows to the head. Of the 307 brains in the bank, just seven are from women and none has been found to have CTE. "We currently know so little about how gender influences outcome after trauma," said Dr. Ann McKee, director of the brain bank program. "Her pledge marks an important step to expand our knowledge in this critical area." Chastain, who played for the US national team from 1988-2004, isn't sure she's had concussions, but suspects she has had at least a couple. (Read more chronic traumatic encephalopathy stories.)