The National Football League announced today that is has awarded more than $35 million in grants to fund medical research aimed at understanding and preventing brain injuries associated with the sport.
Today’s grants are part of the $100 million initiative the league announced in 2016 called the “Play Safe. Play Smart,” campaign. During the 2016 announcement, the league stated they would commit $60 million to technological research, which would include attempts to make helmets and other protective gear safer, and $40 million to fund medical research to forward our understanding the effects of head injuries.
The grants were handed out by an advisory committee who reviewed 129 proposals for funding. Ultimately, eight finalists emerged and the board agreed to provide funding for five select proposals. Peter Chiarelli, chair of the board and a retired U.S. Army general who is the former CEO of One Mind, a nonprofit organization focused on the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, said the chosen proposals will provide benefits for the general population, not just football players.
“This is a public health problem that’s significant, that doesn’t just affect football players and soldiers,” he said.
Where Are The Grants Going?
Here’s a look at where the funding will be going, and what researchers hope to use that funding for:
- $14.7 million to Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School to assess the neurological health of nearly 2,500 former NFL players.
- $9.4 million to a University of Calgary study that will analyze concussions suffered by high school student athletes.
- $6.1 million to a study of brain health of retired football players by the University of Pittsburgh.
- $3.5 million to a study of clinical knowledge and research into traumatic brain injuries by the University of California-San Francisco.
- $1.6 million for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School to examine brain injuries suffered by young athletes in contact sports.
The remaining $5 million in funding will be allocated to research on player health and safety under the guidance of the advisory board.
“I believe what you’re going to see is this was the best $35 million ever spent in this particular field,” Chiarelli said.
We’re starting to see the effects of previous research and safety measures come to fruition. Statistics show that concussions during the preseason were down 13 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. This drop has been linked to better performing helmets and rule changes that emphasize player safety.
Head and spine safety in football has been a focus on this blog in the past, and we’re glad to see the NFL taking some steps to help make the game safer. I hope any findings they come across will be implemented across all levels of football to keep your young athletes safe as well.