The National Football League’s next study of the long-term impact of concussions on players will be more expansive than its first effort, which was lambasted by Congress and independent physicians, according to The New York Times. In fact, one of the doctors leading the new research initiative joined the chorus of critics of the prior research.
The Times, in a story headlined “NFL Plans Broader Concussion Research,” got its information from Dr. Mitchel S. Berger, a leader of the NFL committee and subcommittee on brain injuries. Berger is chairman of the neurological surgery department of the University of California San Francisco, and made his remarks at the 2011 Congress of Neurological Surgeons in Washington earlier this month.
Berger said that the NFL’s subcommittee on brain and spine injury has been conducting conference calls with the players’ union and is aiming to have a presentation ready for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell soon, according to The Times.
The prior NFL research was led by Dr. Ira Casson, and Berger seems to echo what a Congressional committee believed about Casson’s work.
“There’s really nothing we can do with that data in terms of how it was collected and assessed,” Berger was quoted saying by The Times.
The new study will encompass 1,400 people aged 45 to 59, according to The Times. They will be divided into three groups: retired NFL players; those who only played college football; and a control group of non-athletes.
Berger explained that baseline tests for the three groups will be done, followed by exams every three years.
In addition, there will be a parallel study with three groups in the same categories as the subjects 45 to 59, but they will be older, 60 to 75, The Times reported. That parallel study will involve 400 subjects.
Goodell also addressed the surgeons’ convention, saying that nothing was more important to the league than the safety of its players.
Let’s hope he’s telling the truth.