NFL to Study Concussions and Brain Injuries

The National Football League’s committee on concussion research is planning an in-depth study on the long-term effects of concussions on its players. Two years ago, a Congressional committee held a hearing on the link between football and brain injury, and the N.F.L. agreed to turn over players medical records to the House Judiciary Committee for study. However, after ongoing criticism of the methods used in the brain injury study, it was shut down at the end of 2009.

The New York Times reports that the new study will track retired players for longer periods of time, and compare their health to that of a group of subjects who played football in college but not professionally, and a control group of non-athletes with similar physicality.

The health and safety of professional football players, including the risk of concussions and brain and spine injuries, has been an ongoing issue for players and their fans; recently, the suicide of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson was linked to a brain injury.  A new book about his teammate Walter Payton alleges that the famous football player had an addiction to painkillers as the result of the incessant pain he suffered from taking hundreds of hits over his 13-year career.

N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke about the N.F.L. focus on head and spine injuries at the 2011 Congress of Neurological Surgeons. “There is nothing more important to the N.F.L. than the safety of our players, and there is no issue of greater importance when it comes to player safety than the effective prevention, diagnosis and treatment of concussions … The more we can learn about the brain, the better for all…”

Learn more about the risk of head injuries and traumatic brain disorder in football players, or see the full story on the new study here.