NFL Teams Up With Boston University To Study Brain Trauma

BOSTON — The National Football League is encouraging all of its current and retired players to participate in brain research at Boston University, after admitting for the first time this weekend that repeated blows to the head can result in long-term damage.

The league has also committed to giving $1 million to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the BU School of Medicine, whose researchers have been critical of the NFL’s stance on concussions.

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“It’s big news within this topic,” said Dr. Bob Stern, the center’s co-director, in an interview with WBUR’s Bob Oakes. “Finally they are saying: There is a link and let’s do something about it.”

Despite the fact that retired players suffer from unusually high rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the NFL had long denied that concussions cause lasting brain injuries.

Stern noted that the recent announcement also comes on the heels of two significant rule changes: First, an independent specialist — not a team or NFL representative — is now responsible for determining if a player has suffered a concussion and if that player is cleared to return to play. Second, any player who exhibits relevant symptoms now cannot return to practice or a game that same day.

Stern’s research primarily focuses on the longer-term effects of constant, but relatively innocuous, head contact. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, Stern said, is a unique disease that causes memory loss, depression and impulse-control deficiency in the shorter-term, and later worsens into “full-blown dementia.”

While the ongoing CTE study already includes some 50 to 60 professional football players, Stern said the NFL’s support should encourage test subjects and facilitate the study of risk factors.

But while he does advocate some immediate changes to make the game safer, he is also realistic in his expectations. “I hope it does change,” Stern concluded, “but I hope it doesn’t change so dramatically that the game is a completely different game.”

Click “Listen Now” to hear the interview with Dr. Bob Stern on Morning Edition.

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  • steve

    Any three step program

    Admission of guilt

    acknowledging publicly



    taking action to halt the problem

    The committment of $1mil is a public acknowlegment. Taking action would be to initiate a protocol already used by the N.E. Patriots and found in research to help players today. Lessening the further injury that may lead to CTE. Found in boxers, CTE may be reduced by protecting the region of the brain it is found. The frontal lobe is where the jawbone contacts the skull base. Frontal temporal dementia, documented in boxers, can be mitigated. Research of this mechanism is already done. Military research superceeds any other in this realm, they have identified a protocol used by the N. E. Patriots as a means of protecting our soldiers. Today, this must be the focus, today.
    study publication


  • http://www.MyersCSI.com George Visger

    I was recently interviewed over 3 days by Tom Goldman of NPR as I did motivational/goal setting talks pertaining to my 9 VP shunt brain surgeries I have survived since being injured during my 2nd season with the SF 49ers during the 81 Super Bowl season.

    I find it somewhat laughable, that someone such as myself, who to this day is still fighting the 49ers Workers Comp carrier and the NFL for benefits, has NEVER been included in any so called NFL study. How many other ex NFLers completed biology degrees at age 32 (in 1990) during brain surgeries 4 through 7 with multiple grand mal seizures thrown in for giggles, and can still function? I have been jumping up and down trying to get someone to use my 28 year history of hydrocephalus (from repeated concussions over the course of my 13 years of playing football), to gather data which may help prevent other young players and their families from facing what my family has faced for years.

    What the NFL has done for years is criminal, and those with blood on their hands, such as Dr. “No” Casson, should be prosecuted.

    George Visger
    SF 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9 football related brain surgeries (and counting)

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  • http://www.murrayflynn.ie/whiplash-compensation-ireland whiplash compensation ireland

    A brain injury claim can offer more than simply a way to right the wrongs done to a victim of brain injury. It can also provide a lifeline for a family struggling from a loss of income, which in many cases could be permanent, as some victims will never be able to return to their previous employment. The specialist care and treatment required by many brain injury patients are by no means all available for free, and can run into considerable amounts of money. Pay-outs for brain injury claims are much greater than those for other forms of injury, reflecting the’ understanding of the financial burden that victims may face.

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  • Claudia

    There is another layer to these head injuries aside from the injury to the brain itself.  The master
    of your entire endocrine system is in your head (the pituitary gland) and when you have a head injury
    not only does the brain itself suffer injury but the entire endocrine system
    can dismantle as well.  Patients with head injuries rarely get evaulated for a condition known as hypopituitarism which severely diminishes quality of life.  One of the few doctors who treats this is Theodore Friedman, M.D. out in CA.  He helped salvage my quality of life by recognizing by hypopituitarism after a head injury.  Hypopituitarism can show up weeks, months and up to a year after the head injury so often patients and physicians who are not aware – do not correlate their diminishing health to the head injury itself.  Google, hypopituitarism and head injuries and you’ll be surprised at what you learn.  Hope this helps.

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