NFL Partners With International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation (ICHIRF) To Fund Research on Potential Long-Term Effects of Concussion

The National Football League (NFL) and International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation (ICHIRF) have announced a partnership to fund research investigating the potential long-term effects and risk factors associated with concussion in sports.

The longitudinal study, set to launch in January 2016, will be led by Dr. Michael Turner, Medical Director of the ICHIRF, and will investigate the putative link between concussion and CTE in retired jockeys, who have the highest rate of concussions in published literature. The study will also include athletes from other high impact sports to help identify key risk factors of concussion.

“Concussion is an issue for many high impact sports, none more so than horse racing, ” said Dr. Michael Turner, MBBS, MD, FFSEM, Medical Director of the ICHIRF. “Collaboration with the NFL will significantly accelerate the research we are doing with retired jockeys and help establish if there is any independent evidence that concussion has a long-term impact on health.”

“Partnerships of this nature will result in ground-breaking research that will allow us to better understand the science on concussion, which is rapidly evolving,” said Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, chairman of the University of Washington’s Department of Neurological Surgery and co-chairman of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee.

The announcement was made at the 2nd Annual International Professional Sports Concussion Research Think Tank in London, which was hosted by the NFL. The Think Tank served as a platform for leading scientific and medical experts from preeminent international sports organizations to propose ideas for future research collaborations and to share best practices and progress made in the areas of concussion diagnosis, protocols, management and treatment.

This research collaboration “is the latest step the NFL has taken to help scientists and medical experts advance the science around concussion,” according to the league:

  • In September 2012, the NFL announced a $30 million unrestricted grant to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) to advance medical research on brain injuries, especially among athletes and veterans. This marked the single largest donation to any organization in the league’s history.
  • In 2013, the NFL and GE launched the Head Health Initiative, a four-year, $60 million collaboration to accelerate diagnosis and improve treatment for traumatic brain injury. The initiative includes the following:
    • A four-year, $40 million research and development program to develop next generation brain imaging technologies for potential diagnosis, outcome prediction, and treatment therapy for patients with traumatic brain injury.
    • A two-year, open innovation challenge fund to invest up to $20 million in research and technology to better understand, diagnose, and protect against traumatic brain injury. Under Armour and The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is also supporting this effort.
    • The NFL announced a partnership with the CFL to implement the King-Devick Test (K-D Test), an objective remove-from-play sideline concussion screening test based on eye movement, during CFL games and practices throughout the 2015 season to determine whether the K-D Test improves the ability to diagnose concussions.

In August 2015, the NFL announced a $2.5 million foundational donation to UW Medicine to establish the first-of-its-kind Sports Health and Safety Institute to advance research, education and advocacy for the prevention and treatment of sports-related concussions.

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