Story by Erin Wittkop, Defense Media Activity
There’s more hope on the horizon for concussion and traumatic brain injury prevention efforts. President Barack Obama recently announced a partnership between the Defense Department and the NCAA to better prevent, diagnose and treat such injuries.
Combined, the two organizations have made a $30 million commitment to increase concussion awareness education and conduct a study – involving nearly 37,000 college athletes – to learn more about the effects of the injury. It’s the most comprehensive study of its kind to date and each service academy is signed up to lend their support to it.
“I’ve seen in my visits to wounded warriors, traumatic brain injury is one of the signature issues of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The thing is, the vast majority of mild traumatic brain injury cases in the military occur outside deployment. So, even though our wars are ending, addressing this issue will continue to be important to our armed forces,” President Barack Obama said.
Warfighters themselves aren’t the only ones at risk of sustaining a concussion or traumatic brain injury; it can happen to anyone in their family, including spouses and especially active children. Kids are a core focus of these new initiatives as researchers and scientists seek to learn more about concussions in young children, an under-researched demographic.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno says that the lessons learned about these injuries within military ranks can passed along to keep families and young people safe.
“In the military we’ve collected lots of data, whether it be very traumatic brain injury because of combat operations, or others. So, it’s important for us to understand ‘What is that saying?’ and then conduct research and figure out how do we best predict [injury potential and impact] and once we predict, what are the things we can do to ensure the safety of young people.”
“I think now, because of the awareness of it, it’s important now that we really focus on working to provide parents the ability to understand what they can do [to protect their kids] and there’s a safe way to go about doing this and there’s treatment [in the event of an injury]. We want them to not be afraid; we want them to go out there and do whatever they might want to do,” Gen. Odierno said.
The National Football League is leading efforts to help protect kids. They contributed $45 million in March to USA Football’s Heads Up Football program to help young athletes learn the proper techniques to keep their heads safe while competing on the gridiron. The NFL also committed to $25 million in funding over the next three years to offer better concussion education to parents, and provide more trainers at high school football games in the hopes of increasing early concussion detection.
The National Institute of Health is also on board with plans to dedicate $16 million from a previous NFL contribution towards the study of chronic effects of repetitive concussions, a study that benefits warfighters and athletes alike. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is also exploring possibilities for lighter, more effective protective equipment.
Visit the White House’s website to learn more about these initiatives and how our country’s government, military and private industry leaders are working to make a safer future for America.
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