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article imageNFL acknowledges link between brain disease and football

By Tim Sandle     Mar 29, 2016 in Health
Washington - The connection between American Football and brain trauma has featured in a number of studies. However, until now, football authorities have never acknowledged the connection. This has changed following an inquiry.
The link between contact sports and head injuries has been widely discussed by academics and policy makers, and most sports have lent support without making a clear-cut connection. This arrangement has led to improvements with equipment and in terms of funding for medical research. For example, in 2013 the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is awarding two $6-million grants, part funded by the National Football League.
Now, for the first time, the National Football League (NFL) has made a connection with brain injuries, concussion and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), and contact sport.
Laboratory Roots reports that on March 14, 2016, during a roundtable discussion in Washington DC hosted by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Jeff Miller, the NFL's executive vice president for health and safety gave the first indication of any connection. This was during a question and answer panel with Representative Rep. Jan Schakowsky.
Here, Schakowsky asked Miller about the research conducted into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University Medical School by Dr. Ann McKee. McKee had found 96 percent of brains donated by deceased football players to the school showed signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
To this inquiry, Miller answered: “Well, certainly, Dr. McKee's research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly 'yes,' but there are also a number of questions that come with that.”
Schakowsky then interrupted and stressed again, "Is there a link?"
"Yes. Sure," Miller responded.
After the hearing Steven Molo, the attorney for NFL players challenging the settlement, wrote to the federal court, “The NFL’s comments further signal the NFL’s acceptance of Dr. McKee’s conclusions regarding CTE — a stark turn from its position before the district court, which relied on the NFL’s experts to dismiss the significance of the same research.”
This position represents a change from 2013, when the NFL settled a suit involving 4,500 former players. The players (or their estates) alleged that various illnesses, such as dementia, and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, were a direct result of concussions and head injuries sustained when playing professional football. On settling, the NFL drew no connection but instead stated, via Commissioner Rodger Goodell, that the association needed to “do the right thing for the game and the men who played it."
In related news, Virginia Tech has produced a concerning study into head impacts sustained by young football players aged seven and eight years old. This important research, which should impact on policy making, was featured as a Digital Journal Essential Science column.
More about brain trauma sport, NFL, National football league, Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Brain
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