NIH and NFL tackle concussion research

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 17, 2013

News release: “The National Institutes of Health has selected eight projects to receive support to answer some of the most fundamental problems on traumatic brain injury, including understanding long-term effects of repeated head injuries and improving diagnosis of concussions. Funding is provided by the Sports and Health Research Program, a partnership among the NIH, the National Football League, and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH). In 2012, the NFL donated $30 million to FNIH for research studies on injuries affecting athletes, with brain trauma being the primary area of focus. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major public health problem that affects all age groups and is the leading cause of death in young adults. Recently, concern has been raised about the potential long-term effects of repeated concussion, particularly in those most at risk: young athletes and those engaged in professions associated with frequent head injury, including men and women in the military. Current tests cannot reliably identify concussions, and there is no way to predict who will recover quickly, who will suffer long-term symptoms, and which few individuals will develop progressive brain degeneration, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)…The project includes four teams that will correlate brain scans with changes in brain tissue, using a variety of techniques. This may open the possibility of using these advanced brain imaging techniques to diagnose chronic effects of TBI in living individuals. The investigators in the two projects will also help NIH develop a registry dedicated to enrolling individuals with a history of TBI who are interested in donating brain and spinal cord tissue for study after their death. The new NIH Neurobiobank will coordinate the tissue collection, data gathering, and also distribute biospecimens, along with relevant information to enable other scientists to access this valuable tissue.”

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