NFL Health Update: NIH, NFL release latest data from tests

NFL HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATE -- AUGUST 14, 2013

Update on NFL-NIH sports and health research program

The NIH released last week a report on a recent workshop on Brain Trauma Neurodegeneration, hosted by the Sports and Health Research Program -- a public-private partnership between the National Institutes Of Health (NIH), the Foundation for the National Institutes Of Health (FNIH) and the National Football League.

Researchers, doctors and scientists representing many of the finest institutions in the country attended the two-day workshop in July to discuss clinical studies and tools that can be used to better understand the links between brain trauma, risk factors and long-term outcomes. Attendees identified and discussed needed research that could be supported by the NFL's grant to the FNIH. Among the questions discussed:

  • For those exposed to head impacts, who is at risk to develop brain trauma-related neurodegeneration?
  • What are the risk factors that determine symptom onset and progression?
  • By what mechanism does brain trauma cause degeneration?
  • What biomarkers indicate progression?
  • What is the clinical presentation of CTE and how can it be diagnosed in a living person? What distinguishes CTE from other neurodegenerative diseases?
  • How can the chronic effects of trauma be prevented or treated?

According to the NIH report, participants also discussed the tools needed to study head trauma, advantages of data sharing and advances in imaging techniques.

Representatives from the NFL, GE, US Army and US Department of Veterans Affairs, the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and several other NIH Institutes were among those in attendance.

Research supported by the Sports and Health Research Program will be conducted under the direction of the NIH. The Sports and Health Research Program was launched in 2012 with a $30 million commitment by the NFL to help accelerate medical research.

Madden notes improved tackling in Week 1 NFL preseason games

John Madden has arguably watched as much football as anyone in the world. The Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster viewed several Week 1 preseason games and noticed an emerging trend -- improved tackling. He credits the league's emphasis on safety for enhancing technique and form tackling.

"Players are not going for the head shot, that big hit," said Madden, who co-chairs the NFL Player and Safety Advisory Panel with fellow Hall of Fame member Ronnie Lott. "They are keeping their heads up. Good for football. Good for kids watching. I only saw four games, but it was obvious to me. Players tackling the way they are supposed to, with their shoulders and wrapping up."

Teams host Heads Up Football events

The Texans recently held a Heads Up Football Coaches Summit at Reliant Stadium for 150 youth football coaches from the area. The event included education on equipment fitting, Heads Up tackling, common health and injury issues, and concussion awareness. Dr. Vijay Jotwani of Methodist Sports Medicine spoke about the signs and symptoms of concussion. Following the summit, coaches were given the opportunity to apply for Heads Up Football grants from the Texans. Approximately $40,000 in grants will be distributed by the Houston Texans Foundation to assist coaches in using Heads Up Football knowledge learned during the Summit to improve their league.

The Chiefs and USA Football recently hosted Heads Up Football events.

Nearly 50 local youth coaches and administrators attended Heads Up Football Player Safety Coach training at the team's practice facility, The University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. Heads Up Football Master Trainer Kevin Brown spoke with the group, and attendees practiced Heads Up tackling on the Chiefs' youth football field. Heads Up Football Ambassador and former Chiefs linebacker Shawn Barber also addressed the group, along with Dr. Michael Moncure, Dr. Barbara Semakula and Terri Brandley from The University of Kansas Hospital's Center for Concussion Management.

The Chiefs also hosted USA Football Day at training camp for local youth coaches, commissioners and their family members to thank them for adopting Heads Up Football in their respective youth leagues. The group was given special access to morning practice. Following practice, the group visited with Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, Pro Bowlers Jamaal Charles and Dustin Colquitt, and the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, Eric Fisher.

-- NFL Communications

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