Calgary Flames star Jonathan Huberdeau has pledged to donate his brain to Project Enlist Canada for research on brain injuries.
Former astronaut Marc Garneau, all-Ivy hockey star Kalley Armstrong and Major General Denis Thompson (retired) have also joined 170 Canadian armed forces members and veterans in making the pledge, Project Enlist Canada announced in a statement Monday.
The program researches traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in military veterans to better treat and diagnose those injuries.
“As an NHL player, I’m very aware of the impact of traumatic brain injuries, concussions and the link to other mental-health issues,” Huberdeau said in a release.
“I’m proud to support Canadian military veterans by pledging to donate my brain to Project Enlist and support research to improve the quality of life of all military personnel who so bravely and courageously served our country.”
Armstrong, a former captain of the Harvard University’s hockey team, says it is crucial for Canadians to understand the issues that could result from such injuries.
“Concussions ended my hockey career, but I have been able to recover. Others are not so lucky,” Armstrong said in the release.
“It is important all Canadians understand that mental-health issues can result from brain injuries and research will lead to new treatments. I am proud to support Canadian military members in pledging my brain to Project Enlist Canada.”
Ben Lovejoy was the first active NHL player to pledge to donate his brain in 2017. The 38-year-old hasn’t played in the league since 2019.
Former players Daniel Carcillo, Jeff Parker, J.T. Brown and Craig Adams are among those who have also donated their brains for research.
Canadian hockey great Hayley Wickenheiser pledged to donate her brain four years ago, wanting to “honour” her late friend and former NHL player Steve Montador.
Montador, who died in 2015, was diagnosed with CTE after his death.
Her past experience of dizziness and nausea following a hit while playing in a Swedish men’s professional league in 2008 also played a role in the decision.
Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, had become involved with digital therapeutics company Highmark Interactive, which developed video games to diagnose and treat concussions.
The company also developed a mobile application – EQ Brain Performance – as a tool to track brain health in 2018, which also features a series of games.