According to reports, the National Football League Alumni Association is working with a medical company to develop a possible treatment for traumatic brain injuries. If all goes as planned, the treatment will be tested on retired NFL football players, many of whom have suffered brain damage because of repetitive concussions on the field.
The treatment would involve a drug to treat depression that is now in the early stages of human trial. The drug seemed to be able to stimulate the creation of new brain cells, which could potentially help repair brain damage that was formerly believed to be irreversible.
The medical company called Neuralstem, Inc. announced its possible partnership with the NFL alumni program this week. In order for the treatment to be tested on retired NFL players, government approval would be needed. Brain injuries within the NFL have become a hot issue after several former players with degenerative brain disease have committed suicide.
Additionally, thousands of former NFL players with brain injuries have sued the league alleging that league officials knew the damage repetitive concussions could cause but failed to tell or protect the players. Most of the lawsuits have been consolidated into one case that is being heard by a Philadelphia federal court judge.
A lawyer who represents about 4,200 former players said in an interview with the Associated Press that the NFL withheld information about the damage repetitive concussions could have on players even after creating a “sham committee” in 1994 called the Mild Trauma Brain Injury committee.
In response to the controversy, the American Academy of Neurology issued new guidelines as to how athletes should be treated following a head injury. While head injuries used to be graded for severity and only the most severe required sitting out of a game, the AAN has a new slogan of “when it doubt, sit it out.”
Source: CBS News, “NFL may test brain injury treatment on retired players,” April 24, 2013