To the wrestling community (Chris Nowinski)

To the professional wrestling community:

I was saddened today, but not surprised, to learn that Andrew “Test” Martin was suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive trauma, when he passed away. I had the honor of wrestling Test on multiple occasions and he had my respect both as a performer and as a person.

Most wrestlers and wrestling fans are aware that since retiring from WWE due to multiple concussions, I have dedicated my life to the study, treatment, and prevention of CTE. Our non-profit Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) was responsible for the diagnosis of CTE in Chris Benoit in 2007, the first professional wrestler diagnosed with CTE. In 2008 I teamed up with the top researchers in this field to start the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at the prestigious Boston University School of Medicine. Along with Dr. Ann McKee, Dr. Robert Stern, and Dr. Robert Cantu we have now analyzed the brains of over twenty athletes, and are beginning to develop an advanced understanding of this disease

More importantly over 225 active and retired athletes have volunteered to be part of a longitudinal study on CTE. By enrolling in our CONTACT study at the CSTE at Boston University School of Medicine, they will be committing to donating their brain to CTE research after death. CONTACT members also agree to update their medical and trauma histories annually with the CSTE by phone. This study will enable the CSTE to obtain more accurate and detailed histories of donors and compare them to future pathological findings, eventually allowing us to understand the specific risk factors and clinical course of CTE.

Over 20 wrestlers have already enrolled or recently pledged to join the study, including Rob Van Dam, Matt Morgan, Lance Storm, Ken Kennedy, Molly Holly, Tony Garea, Antonio Thomas, Dawn Marie, Kevin Fertig, and other big names who at this point choose to remain anonymous. The only group of professional athletes so far with a greater commitment to this research is NFL players, with over 60 current and retired players involved.

Considering how the CSTE’s research combined with SLI’s advocacy were able to convince the NFL last month to completely change their approach to both concussions and lower-impact repetitive brain trauma, Test’s tragic death provides an opportunity to create change and to prevent this from happening to others.

I would like to encourage current and former professional wrestlers to become part of the research that we expect will eventually lead to treatment and a cure for CTE. I am enrolled and will be donating my brain to help my former colleagues. I hope you will choose to join me and over 20 other members of our fraternity in this important endeavor.

Chris Nowinski
[email protected]

To enroll, call
Megan Wulff, MPH
Research Coordinator
617-638-6143
[email protected]

To learn more, visit www.sportslegacy.org