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news-articleNews<p>In 2016, through its Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative, the National Football League (NFL) allotted $40 million in funding for medical research primarily dedicated to neuroscience.</p>

Spaulding Based Group Selected for NFL Grant to Concussion Research


In 2016, through its Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative, the National Football League (NFL) allotted $40 million in funding for medical research primarily dedicated to neuroscience. The NFL then assembled a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)—chaired by Peter Chiarelli, U.S. Army General (Retired)—comprising leading independent researchers, experts, doctors, scientists and clinicians to develop and lead a clear process to identify and support compelling proposals for scientific research to be funded.

The SAB reviewed 129 proposals, which they narrowed down to a group of eight finalists who made oral presentations to the SAB, in addition to providing required written materials.

After review and evaluation of the science and merit of the finalists’ proposals, the SAB recommended five projects to the NFL for funding. The NFL accepted the SAB’s recommendations and granted funding to all five projects. Among the five chosen was a study based at Spaulding led by Grant Iverson, PhD which was award a grant for over $1.5 million dollars. The project titled” The Spectrum of Concussion: Predictors of Clinical Recovery, Treatment and Rehabilitation, and Possible Long-Term Effects” “This funding is incredibly important for our research programs and the investigators involved in them,” Iverson said. “It brings new resources to several of our ongoing projects.”

Dr. Iverson is leading a multidisciplinary team of experts from the United States, Canada, and Australia to conduct transformative research across the spectrum of concussion in collision sports such as football, hockey, soccer, rugby and more. The team will examine acute effects, functional recovery, treatment and rehabilitation for youth who are slow to recover, possible long-term effects on brain health, and rehabilitation of retired amateur athletes. Dr. Iverson said the researchers are extremely interested in what they call “precision rehabilitation,” which designs rehabilitation strategy according to both symptoms and personal characteristics. Individuals with health conditions like ADHD, prior history of migraine headaches or mental health difficulties, or prior concussions may recover differently than someone who hasn’t had those prior conditions, Iverson said. “Using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to concussion treatment may not be helpful,” he said, noting that examining the impact of these other variables may lead researchers to think about concussion treatment differently.

The team will conduct and publish at least 16 studies. Among the goals of the studies are to understand the effects of concussion in young athletes with pre-existing conditions, examine pre-injury predictors of clinical recovery from concussion, look at risk factors for persistent symptoms in High School and Collegiate Athletes, develop new approaches for youth athletes with persistent symptoms following concussion, and develop a new virtual treatment program for retired athletes with chronic pain and brain health problems.

These studies will identify and address critical gaps in the current knowledge base across the spectrum of concussion, with a particular focus on better understanding comorbid conditions. The six aims are listed below. Aim #1: Understand the Acute Effects of Concussion in Young Athletes with Pre-Existing Conditions. Aim #2: Examine Pre-Injury Predictors of Clinical Recovery from Concussion: Systematic Reviews and Knowledge Gap Analyses. Aim #3: Examine Risk Factors for Persistent Symptoms in High School and Collegiate Athletes. Aim #4: Develop, Implement, and Evaluate a Home-Based, Web-Monitored Active Rehabilitation Program for Adolescents and Young Adults with Persistent Symptoms Following Concussion. Aim #5: Examine the Clinical Phenotype of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Aim #6: Develop and Evaluate a New Virtual Treatment Program for Retired Collision Sport Athletes with Chronic Pain and Brain Health Problems.

Iverson that while there is far more public awareness of concussion than in the past, there are also public and polarized misconceptions about the seriousness of the injury. “The science of concussion is complex, and there is much to learn,” he said, “… and it is essential to continue to systematically examine this injury and its effects on student athletes.”

Click here to view the NFL SBA news full release.