The fate of NFL athletes and a possible connection between repeated brain injury and later health problems is now being taken seriously by the NFL. As part of their new focus, the league last year donated $30 million to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), primarily for research concerning brain trauma.
Today the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced eight new studies that will receive funding to study the effects of repeated head injuries, concussions, and traumatic brain injury. The studies were selected by the NIH to receive funding following what it calls a “rigorous scientific review process.
Two of the eight studies will receive $6 million each to examine long-term brain changes following a head injury or repeated concussions. One of the se two studies will take place at the Boston University School of Medicine and will examine brains for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and could help determine a method for diagnosing the condition in the living. The other study will take place at Mount Sinai Hospital and will compare the chronic effects of traumatic brain injuries to features of CTE.
“Although the two cooperative agreements focus on different aspects of TBI, their combined results promise to answer critical questions about the chronic effects of single versus repetitive injuries on the brain, how repetitive TBI might lead to CTE, how commonly these changes occur in an adult population, and how CTE relates to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Story Landis, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The six other studies will be smaller projects, with the NIH spending slightly more than $2 million for them. These studies will be pilot projects related to collecting data on sports-related concussions, particularly in children and adolescents. Any of the projects could become larger studies if results seem promising to the NIH.
“We need to be able to predict which patterns of injury are rapidly reversible and which are not,” said Landis. “This program will help researchers get closer to answering some of the important questions about concussion for our youth who play sports and their parents.”