NFL dedicates large portion of $100 million pledge to neuroscience

A year after the NFL pledged $100 million in support of independent medical research and engineering advancements, a huge chunk of that soon will be awarded to such research, primarily dedicated to neuroscience.

A Scientific Advisory Board assembled by the NFL is set to launch its program to solicit and evaluate research proposals for funding. The board, comprised of independent experts, doctors, scientists, and clinicians, and chaired by retired US Army General Peter Chiarelli, will provide direction for the $40 million allocated under the league’s initiative.

“Prevention should always be a focus,” Mr. Chiarelli says. “Nevertheless, the development of biologically based diagnostics is critical for return-to-play decisions for the NFL, and return to combat/training for the armed forces. Imagine if you had a handheld analyzer that with a single drop could determine whether a player or a soldier had a concussion – and determine the severity of that injury.”

The NFL has an ongoing affiliation with the armed forces and in April partnered with the US Army Medical Research and Material Command on a three-year venture to collaborate on head health research and development.

Any sports-oriented medical studies must be all-encompassing. Developing improved tools for research and design is front and center, as the league’s scientific advisory board is seeking to be, with significant financial outlay.

Doctors say CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) can cause memory loss, depression, violent mood swings, and other cognitive and behavioral issues in those exposed to repetitive head trauma.

“There have been significant learnings in recent years that have changed the way we look at traumatic brain injury, notably CTE,” says Dr. Allen Sills, who came aboard this year as the league’s chief medical officer. “I agree with many medical experts that there are still a lot of unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence, and prevalence of CTE….

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