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NFL awards research grants for player safety


NFL Charities, the charitable foundation of the National Football League owners, has awarded more than $1.6 million in grants to support sports-related medical research at 16 organizations, the NFL announced today. Of these grants, nearly one million dollars will go to studying concussion prevention and treatment.

"We are proud to support sports-related medical research proposals through NFL Charities Medical Research Grants," said Commissioner Roger Goodell, President of the NFL Charities Board. "These grants will help to address risk factors for football players and all athletes, and make the game safer."

NFL Charities has actively solicited and placed emphasis on research proposals focused on concussion/traumatic brain injury research, cardiovascular research and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.

More concussions were reported during the 2010 NFL season than the past two seasons.

As of December 13, 2010, the NFL's website noted that 154 concussions obtained in practices or games were reported across the league between the start of training camp and the eighth week of the season. This is a 21 percent increase over the 127 number of concussions reported during the same time span in 2009, and a 34 percent increase over the 115 reported through eight weeks in 2008.

The NFL is taking action to help protect their players.

This year's grants include studies on association between football exposure and dementia in retired football players; concussion surveillance among a large national sample of middle school football players; the role of cervical spine in football-related concussion; examining how genetics may influence the outcome after repeated concussions; an integrated neuroimaging study for diagnosing and monitoring mild TBI in football players; the dynamic heart rate behavior of NFL athletes; and the prevalence, distribution and fate of MRSA on synthetic turf grass systems.

The NFL has supported sports-related medical research for decades through NFL Charities Medical Research Grants. Since 2000, NFL Charities has committed grants to non-profit medical facilities nationwide, including studies on brain injury, ACL injury prevention and heat stress risks.

Among the grant recipients was the University of Rochester who are performing research on changes in brain matter after multiple head blows. The other eight organizations getting funding for concussion-related research are Cleveland Clinic/Lutheran Hospital; Johns Hopkins; Massachusetts General Hospital/Children's Hospital; Nationwide Children's Hospital; UCLA; University of North Carolina; Notre Dame and University of Pittsburgh.

During the 2011 college football season, University of Rochester (UR) football players will wear special helmets that measure the force of hits to the head. The study will investigate changes in brain matter after hits that don't result in a concussion. The changes can be viewed on a special magnetic resonance imaging test, and UR will study these changes and attempt to determine if there is any long-term significance.

NFL Charities is a non-profit organization created by the 32 member clubs of the National Football League to enable the teams to collectively make grants to charitable and worthwhile causes on a national scale. Since its inception, NFL Charities has granted more than $120 million to more than 640 different organizations. NFL Charities' primary funding categories include: sports-related medical research and education grants; player foundation grants in support of the philanthropic work of current and former NFL players; impact grants to support national youth health and fitness education initiatives as part of a league-wide commitment to fight childhood obesity; financial assistance for former NFL players in need via direct support to the NFL Player Care Foundation; team program grants which supplement the charitable and community activities of the 32 NFL clubs.

The NFL Charities Board consists of Commissioner ROGER GOODELL; Former Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE; CHARLOTTE JONES ANDERSON, Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President/Director of Charities; MICHAEL BIDWILL, Arizona Cardinals President; MARY OWEN, Buffalo Bills Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning; ALAN PAGE, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and Pro Football Hall of Fame Member; and DELORES BARR WEAVER, Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation CEO.

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