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Angela Ruggiero, Hayley Wickenheiser pledge brains to concussion research

Two of the world's most decorated women's hockey players have pledged their brains to concussion research.

American Angela Ruggiero and Canadian Hayley Wickenheiser -- who have both retired from hockey -- announced on Tuesday they would donate their brains to the Concussion Legacy Foundation after their deaths.

American bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor also was included in the announcement. Other prominent female athletes who have pledged their brains for concussion research include soccer player Abby Wambach and swimmer Jenny Thompson.

"As a woman, I know a lot of studies skew towards male subjects, so it's important to have more female brains to study," Ruggiero said in a news release. "I felt it was important for me to put my foot forward and pledge my brain to help this great cause and to learn more about the effects of sports. If it can help future generations, it's worth it to me. I hope my actions can inspire others to do the same, specifically other athletes and specifically female athletes because any study has to have a balanced representation of both genders."

Ruggiero, 38, was a defenseman who played in four Olympics for Team USA, including the 1998 team that won gold in Nagano.

"As I transition to being an ambassador for hockey in my retirement, I am determined to leave hockey better and safer," Wickenheiser said in a release. "Steve Montador was a friend, and when he was diagnosed with CTE after his death in 2015, I became inspired to do my part to fight this disease."

Wickenheiser, 39, is a four-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time world champion.

The Boston-based Concussion Legacy Foundation, which supports CTE and concussion research, says more than 2,800 former athletes and military veterans have promised to donate their brains since 2008. The organization says more than 560 of those pledges are from women.