The residual effects of mild traumatic brain injuries have received increasing scrutiny over the past few years. Perhaps in response to mounting criticism of football-related head injuries, the NFL gave a $30 million grant to the National Institute of Health this week. The money will fund a study of the long term effects of brain injuries.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said "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." Goodell's leadership has emphasized safety in the NFL.
Concussions are a common source of traumatic brain injuries. Although concussions may appear innocuous, it is becoming more apparent that they can have severe long term effects. Autopsies of some career football players revealed brains that resembled those of dementia and Alzheimer's patients. Mild traumatic brain injuries can also be hard to detect. Often a family member is more equipped to notice behavioral differences than a doctor.
The National Institute of Health has not announced how it plans to spend the money yet. But hopefully its research will focus on mild traumatic brain injuries more broadly. This research would be useful throughout the medical community-a more thorough understanding will help treat and respond to the long term consequences of concussions for all victims.
Source: Wall Street Journal, "NFL Funds Brain-Injury Study," Matthew Futterman, Sept. 5, 2012