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NFL Invest $20m in Concussion Research to Protect Against Brain Injuries

The National Football League (NFL) has announced it will award up to $20m in research funding aimed at preventing brain injuries among American football players.

In an effort to find a solution to the ever-growing problem of brain and head injuries in the sport, the NFL co-sponsored a research challenge, with three technologies winning the funding: 

  • An impact-absorbing helmet, developed by the University of Washington
  • A cushion for artificial turf, developed by Viconic Sporting
  • A rubberised tether that slows the speed that a head snaps back after a collision, developed by the US Army Research Laboratory.

Announcing the award, senior vice president for health and safety for the NFL, Jeff Miller, said: "This is an opportunity to see what the future is going to look like."

American Football and Concussion

Concussion – a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head – has been a growing issue in the NFL for a number of years.

There were 692 diagnosed concussions in the NFL last year. Earlier this year, a US court approved a class-action settlement between the NFL and thousands of former players. The agreement provides up to $5m compensation for each retired player suffering from the effects of repeated concussion throughout their career.

Next month sees the release of Concussion – The Movie. Starring Will Smith, the film looks to put the topic of concussion in sport in the public eye.

Will the New Technology Help Reduce Brain Injuries?

The shock-absorbing helmet could, in the future, reduce the risk of American footballers suffering concussion. According to the University of Washington, existing head protection only prevents skull fractures and does not mitigate the concussion risk.

Installing a soft cushioning layer underneath the football turf could help further reduce the impact if a player hits their head on the pitch.

The rubberised tether, attached to the chin, is anchored to a player’s body under the jersey. Originally designed for use in military ankle and knee braces, the tether is made of elastic material that resists with 100 times the normal force when pulled very quickly.

In commissioning the research, the NFL has taken a step in the right direction in addressing the seriousness of concussion in American football. We’ll wait and see whether the new technologies make it onto the football field and whether any other initiatives are introduced to make player safety the number one priority in sport.

Ken Brough is a senior personal injury solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have many years’ experience in helping people with brain injuries to brighter outcomes. We can provide immediate legal representation and rehabilitation support from anywhere in the UK and offer hospital visits for people who cannot attend one of our offices.

For a free consultation about making a brain injury compensation claim, call us on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll get back you.

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