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In a state where football is practically a way of life, one Texas legislator has drafted a proposal that would supplement insurance already offered by school districts. This is just another step that reinforces what many feel is part of the changing landscape in youth sports—in this case, how to arm parents with the resources to offset the costs of properly diagnosing and treating head trauma.
The pilot program as proposed by Brownsville Democratic Rep. Eddie Lucio III focuses on “supplemental concussion insurance for boys who play football and girls who play soccer.”
Texas school districts currently offer insurance to students participating in sports. However, Lucio’s proposal “gives parents the option of buying extra insurance for ‘around $5.’” And would guard against “concussion-related symptoms (that) sometimes don’t appear until after students graduate and lose their district insurance.”
The house version of this bill passed on May 7th.
If approved by the Senate, the University Interscholastic League and the Texas Education Agency would administer the policies which would be underwritten by private companies. Both the UIL and the TEA would also select the districts to benefit from this pilot, which Lucio hopes is “a cross-section from around the state.”
In a collaborative effort involving the NFL, the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the Sports and Health Research Program (SHRP—sponsored by the NFL), grant proposals are being sought by SHRP from NIH for experts in the field of sports-related brain injuries to ratchet up a focused initiative “to gain more insight into serious medical conditions that affect both athletes and the general public.”
This initiative will “conduct ground-breaking medical research to enhance the understanding of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other long-term effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury.”
Said Maria Freire, Ph.D., President of the NIH, “We are encouraged by the momentum the SHRP team is building in such a short time with the announcement of these pioneering new research initiatives,” adding, “Thanks to the generosity of the NFL, the program will provide us with invaluable data and ultimately ways to prevent and treat injuries in ways that will benefit athletes and non-athletes alike.”
The NFL’s position in this matter was voiced by Commissioner Roger Goodell. “The research and results generated by the SHRP will help medical professionals understand more about head injuries not only in athletes, but also in the general population. We are proud to be collaborating with the NIH on this important work,”
The five-year initiative for this $30 million program deals with brain injury at the outset. However, SHRP may pursue other sports-related injuries at some point “such as chronic degenerative joint disease, the transition from acute to chronic pain, sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes, and heat and hydration-related illness and injury.”
Priority attention in this research “will investigate the neuropathology of CTE and delayed effects of TBI using postmortem biospecimens and histological and neuroimaging tools.”
To learn more about this program, go to – http://www.fnih.org/work/key-initiatives/sports-and-health-research-program