Here’s the Army’s and National Football League’s spin on how they’re doing in terms of preventing traumatic brain injury.
The military put out a press release this week on a report that both groups made to Congress on Tuesday.
The Army has made more progress in studying TBI in the last 10 years than it made in the previous 50, or so the service’s vice chief said on Capitol Hill.
Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III appeared with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the initiatives being shared by the two organizations in regard to TBI.
Austin and Goodell met with lawmakers from both the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force and the Military Veterans Caucus to update them know about the TBI research that both the Army and the NFL are doing and to share what has been learned about TBI prevention and diagnosis.
According to the press release, Austin said the Army has made “significant progress in recent years” in Afghanistan in regard to TBI.
“Protocols in theater now prescribe what has to be done when a soldier experiences such an injury, for instance,” the release said.
There are nine concussion care centers in Afghanistan, and about 7,000 soldiers are deployed with sensors in their helmets to record concussive events. Additional units are preparing to deploy with those sensors in their helmets.
The Army also announced that is also working on tests that can detect biomarkers in the blood that will indicate more accurately if a soldier has suffered injury to the brain as a result of a concussion.
“We are doing a lot in this area,” Austin said. “We can never do enough. We are going to continue to push the envelope. Our goal is to achieve more, to do it sooner, and to create greater effect … TBI affects a significant portion of our population, and not just within our military ranks or among professional athletes, but across society as a whole.”
There have been about 244,000 cases of TBI over the last 11 years in the Department of Defense. In the United States, there are about 1.7 million diagnosed cases of TBI each year, and it’s expected there’s an additional 1 million cases that go undiagnosed.
During a ceremony in August at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno and Goodell both signed a letter outlining initiatives to be taken by the Army and NFL in regard to TBI. Included in the initiative is a promise to share medical research and information about TBI between the two organizations.
The Army and the NFL have both launched websites dedicated to their shared initiative, the Army at www.army.mil/tbi, and the NFL at www.nfl.com/military. Both organizations will also bring together pro football players and soldiers at forums around the country to highlight the importance of seeking treatment for TBI.
“All of us are working cooperatively to make a difference to address this issue, to make it safer for not only our troops but for sports in general and society in general,” Goodell said.