Football Head Injuries Get $30 Million from NFL Donation to NIH Brain Injury Research: Many Dangers of Playing Football Still Being Discovered


Football Head Injuries Get $30 Million from NFL Donation to NIH Brain Injury Research: Many Dangers of Playing Football Still Being Discovered

Playing football in the United States may be much more dangerous than we realize — though research is being done and reports this month include findings that the force felt by football players to their head (and brain) can mean not only death and concussion but serious harm and permanent life changes from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis); CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), Parkingson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease. (For details, see the latest study is published in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.)

Why is this important to all Americans? Because not only are professional athletes being injured or killed from head injuries that happen while they are playing sports, children in this country are also being hurt by traumatic brain injuries and concussions while playing sports or enjoying sporting activities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 2001–2009, an estimated 2,651,581 children (up to the age of 19 years) were treated annually for sports and recreation–related injuries. Approximately 173,285 of these injuries were TBIs.  From 2001 to 2009, the estimated number of sports and recreation–related TBI visits to EDs increased 62%.

National Football League Gives $30 million For Brain Injury Research

The NFL has opened the 2012 Professional Football season with a big donation to brain injury research.  In accepting the $30,000,000 grant money, the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, has announced its gratitude for the funding but has given no details on exactly how the money will be used.

UPI is reporting that this is the largest donation that the National Football League has given in its history.

From the National Football League:

The National Football League will provide $30 million in funding for medical research to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL announced today.

The unrestricted gift is the NFL’s single-largest donation to any organization in the league’s 92-year history and will be overseen by The National Institutes of Health (NIH).

NIH, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and one of the world’s foremost medical research centers, will administer the NFL funding and research designed to benefit athletes and the general population, including members of the military.

With this contribution, the NFL becomes the founding donor to a new Sports and Health Research Program, which will be conducted in collaboration with institutes and centers at the NIH. The FNIH hopes to welcome other donors, including additional sports organizations, to the collaboration.

Specific plans for the research will remain to be developed, but potential areas under discussion include accelerating the pace of discovery to support the most innovative and promising science of the brain, including: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE); concussion management and treatment; and the understanding of the potential relationship between traumatic brain injury and late-life neurodegenerative disorders, especially Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition to brain research, funding also will be dedicated to other important health areas such as: sudden cardiac death in young athletes; heat and hydration-related illness; chronic degenerative joint disease as a result of athletic injuries; the transition from acute to chronic pain; and the detection and health effects of performance enhancing substances, including human growth hormone.

“We hope this grant will help accelerate the medical community’s pursuit of pioneering research to enhance the health of athletes past, present and future,” said Goodell. “This research will extend beyond the NFL playing field and benefit athletes at all levels and others, including members of our military.”

“We are grateful for the NFL’s generosity,” says Dr. Stephanie James, FNIH acting executive director and CEO. “The research to be funded by this donation will accelerate scientific discovery that will benefit athletes and the general public alike.”

Dissemination of funding from this grant will be governed by federal law and policy applicable to NIH-funded research.   In accordance with NIH policy, NIH funding recipients will be urged to disseminate the results of research to optimize the value of the science to the research community and the public.  The NFL will have no early or special access to scientific study data.

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