Over the past year or so, we’ve been covering the personal injury lawsuits that have been filed against the National Football League by former players who now suffer from brain injuries. Thousands of retired players have sued the league, alleging that NFL officials knew how dangerous concussions are, but failed to warn or protect the players.
Recently, the NFL announced that it will be donating $30 million to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to fund medical research. Interestingly, the announcement of the donation occurred the same day the NIH released a study indicating that former NFL players are much more likely to die from degenerative brain disease than the general public.
The study followed more than 3,400 football players who spent at least five playing seasons in the NFL between 1959 and 1988. The cutoff time for the study was 2007, at which time about 344 players had passed away. Using data from autopsies, researchers concluded that degenerative brain diseases caused three times as many deaths among the players compared to the general public.
The degenerative diseases researchers watched for included Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s. Researchers were not able to look for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a relatively new condition that has been linked to concussions, but they said some of the deaths were likely caused by CTE and were misdiagnosed.
The grant donated by the NFL is supposed to fund research for CTE concussion management and treatment. Specifically, researchers hope to better understand and the relationship between traumatic brain injuries and later-life neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. The research is supposed to benefit former NFL players, military members as well as the general public.
Source: Star Tribune, “NFL pledges $30 million for medical research to national health institution,” Sept. 5, 2012