NFL Charities Awards Sports Medical Research Grant

September 11, 2012 – NFL Charities, the charitable foundation of the National Football League owners, has awarded more than $1.5 million in grants to support sports-related medical research at 15 organizations, including the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, the NFL announced today.  Of these grants, more than $950,000 will go to studying concussion prevention and treatment.

“We are proud to support sports-related medical research through NFL Charities Medical Research Grants,” said COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL. “These research projects have implications far beyond football, and we are committed to playing a role in helping make sports safer.”

Dr. W. Dalton Dietrich, Miami Project Scientific Director, and colleagues Drs. Helen Bramlett and Coleen Atkins, have reported that raised brain temperature (hyperthermia) before and after a relatively mild head injury converts a mild injury into a moderate injury.  These recently published observations showing the importance of brain temperature on the consequences of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion, and have resulted in funding from the NFL Charities that will specifically look at the effects of mild hyperthermia on outcome after mild traumatic brain injury.

“These results indicate that small variations in brain temperature may have a critical role in the long-term consequences of single or repetitive concussions.  Importantly, these experimental findings may have a high impact in terms of athletes and military personnel sustaining mild concussions in environments with elevated temperatures or when levels of physical exertion increase core temperatures,” said Dr. Dietrich.

NFL Charities has actively solicited and placed emphasis on research proposals focused on areas including concussion/traumatic brain injury research and cardiovascular research.  Three separate NFL Charities Medical Grant review committees evaluated the 2011 grant proposals based on each committee’s area of expertise.  Recommendations were submitted to the NFL Charities Board of Directors for approval.

This year’s grants include studies on stem cells and nervous system injuries; MRI methods after concussions; the effect of temperature on the severity of potential brain injuries; the implications of helmet, facemask and shoulder pad designs on airway and cardiovascular care; and a sleep apnea program focused on NFL players.

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.