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NFL assigns Boston Children's Hospital $ 14.7m to study brain injury

The Boston Children's Hospital has won a $ 14.7 million grant from the National Football League to study how headaches…

The Boston Children‘s Hospital has won a $ 14.7 million grant from the National Football League to study how headaches affect neurological health over time &#821

1; and to identify potential treatments for brain damage .

money allows children and four cooperative institutions to study thousands of former NFL players and investigate ways to mitigate the damage from the main impact.

The contribution to Children is the largest of five awards of $ 35 million that NFL announced Thursday, as part of its commitment to supporting medical research. The support included $ 1.5 million for a project by Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical School to study short and long term effects of brain injury on high school practitioners.

The child project will be five years. In the end, researchers will propose clinical trials to test the most promising treatments, potentially helping those with chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, the condition of the brain that has hit soccer stars like late Aaron Hernandez.

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Unlike the widely published CTE survey investigating the brains of deceased athletes, this project will focus on the former NFL players who have volunteered to answer questions and undergo tests.

“What makes us unique is that we study specific treatments and specific prevention strategies,” said Dr. William Meehan of Boston Children & # 39; s Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center, Project Manager.

Child researchers have studied sports-related brain shakes for a decade in collaboration with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Beth Israel Diakoness will also be included in the NFL-funded research. Barns was selected in a competitive process to lead the project, Meehan said.

Research suggests that CTE occurs when multiple hits in the head, even those who do not cause brain shaking or producing symptoms, trigger a degenerative process in the brain these years or decades later can cause disabling mental problems including agitation, impulsivity, explosive temperament, depression , anxiety and memory loss.

CTE has been diagnosed in former amateur and professional athletes and military veterans, but it is not known how common it is or why some are afflicted and not others. Despite the fact that the drums of CTE news and the involvement of high profile athletes have caused parents to worry about writing their children in contact sports.

Study CTE is tricky because it can not be diagnosed until after death, and early symptoms are similar to other conditions. The most famous research around CTE has involved the examination of donated brains.

The child project, on the other hand, aims to provide new insights into the living by assessing the neurological health of retired NFL players. Some 2500 players were interviewed for the first time in 2001 by the University of North Carolina researchers; Since then, the study group has grown to more than 3,000 and the children’s hopes to recruit more, Meehan said. The names and data of the players will be held confidential, he said.

The researchers will investigate them annually and also conduct intensive tests on a few hundred of the players, conduct brain scans, blood tests and other physical and neurological measurements.

The team wants to see if the player’s neurological health correlates with the number of brain shakes they experienced or with the number of strokes in the head that did not produce brain shock symptoms.

They will try to measure ropes – a brain protein that becomes malignant after injury and can trigger CTE through brain scans and blood tests. The goal is to see if abnormal levels of the protein can be detected in the live signaling presence of CTE.

The researchers will also investigate four potential treatments for CTE: an antibody that in mice studies has been shown to destroy the toxic tooth; memantin, a medicine used to treat Alzheimer’s disease carbon monoxide, a toxic gas that in low doses can protect the brain after injury. and “environmental enrichment” – by using physical and mental exercises to keep the brain healthy.

In addition to Children and Beth Israel Diakonin, the project consortium will include the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University Orthopedic Center at Penn State.

NFL gathered an advisory board for senior scientific experts to assist in selecting scholars from 129 applicants. In addition to the awards to the Children & Spaulding groups, the $ 6 million contributions include the University of Pittsburgh, $ 9.4 million to the University of Calgary and $ 3.4 million in California, San Francisco.

Thursday’s awards spend anything but $ 5 million from the $ 40 million pool awarded by NFL for medical research. The league said that the remaining money would be distributed later to medical research about the players’ health and safety.

Due to accusations of not adequately protecting players against head injury, the league gave $ 100 million to fund research. Of that, $ 60 million will go to technical and biomechanical studies, such as developing more safe helmets, and the remaining 40 million dollars targeted at medical research, primarily neuroscience.

In a separate previous rate, NFL awarded $ 30 million to a partnership with the National Health Institute, which fell together in 2017 with less than half of the money spent. However, the league earlier this year announced that it spent the remaining $ 16.3 million on several government-developed research projects in brain injury, traumatic brain injury and age-related dementia.

Ligan has also promised $ 1 billion in a solution with more than 20,000 retired players suffering from consequential injuries on head injury in the field.

Felice J. Freyer can be accessed at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @felicejfreyer.

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