The Super Bowl is over — but the NFL and General Electric are just getting started with a four-year partnership to better detect and study concussions, which have been found to lead to brain injuries that accumulate over time and cause depression and dementia all too often.
“Is this their way of defending themselves with this cloud over the sport? I’d be lying if I told you it had nothing to do with it,” Kevin Guskiewicz, the founding director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at the University of North Carolina, told The New York Times.
The first part of the initiative involves spending $30 million on developing diagnostic scans that could be used in real time to show the extent of brain injury and when it’s safe for players to return to games.
The second part of the project is spending $20 million on an “innovation challenge” open to inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs on how best to develop and improve safety equipment such as helmets.
“This is what happened to H.I.V. and breast cancer, all of a sudden people got excited about the subject,” Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen, a chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the co-chair of the N.F.L.’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee, told the Times. “Now everybody wants to solve it. Whatever the motivation is — to make sure sports don’t go away, to make sure soldiers are all right. Who knows what the motivation is? I don’t really care. I’m excited that this field I’ve labored in for 30 years is all of a sudden moving forward.”