After weeks of progressively worse news surrounding the long-term dangers of concussions among professional football players, the NFL has finally broken its silence and announced that a $100 million research grant is in the works. The NFL Player’s Association said that it’s working on a 10-year deal with the NFL to partner with Harvard. The partnership would hopefully result in better diagnosis, treatment and prevention of players’ injuries.
The problem, which the NFL appears to be rather slow to realize, is that professional football players have never really been studied before. Though exams have been done on the brains of players after their deaths, no studies have been conducted while the players are alive. The planned research will focus on the whole player, not just isolating the brain, but instead watch how all aspects of a person’s life and health can be impacted from years of professional play.
If the new money goes ahead it will eclipse the $30 million donated by the NFL to the National Institutes of Health last year. The donation was for a more specific purpose and would focus only on brain injuries in players.
The Harvard study intends to begin by studying 100 unhealthy players along with 100 healthy players. The groups will be selected by conducting baseline tests on 1,000 participants. The tests will check for cardiac function, joint problems and psychological issues as well as examining detailed patient and injury histories. From this larger group, the 100 healthiest and least healthy players will be selected and then will be followed by Harvard researchers for years to come. The hope is that rather than take a snapshot of an injury, the long-term study will allow scientists to watch the whole movie, following players throughout their careers to monitor them for injuries and side effects of head trauma. The hope is that the study will explain why some players suffer such serious problems while others remain perfectly healthy.
The decision to launch the major research initiative comes on the heels of results confirming that Junior Seau, a former NFL player who committed suicide last year, was suffering from CTE, a degenerative brain condition caused by repeated blows to the head. His family, as well as thousands of other former players, have sued the league alleging that little was done to warn or protect players.
Adding insult to injury, just last week President Obama said in an interview that if he had a son he would have to think long and hard before letting him play football. The President said that though he loves the game, he believes it will have to become less violent to protect the players’ safety.
Pope McGlamry P.C., currently represents former professional football players for injuries and damages sustained as a result of suffering concussions while playing football, and is actively involved in this litigation. If you or someone you love has been injured by a sports-related concussion, you may be entitled to compensation.
Source: “NFL Players Association, Harvard planning $100 million player study,” by Stephanie Smith, published at CNN.com.
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