His focus remains on sub-concussive trauma, the ‘bottom of the iceberg’ in his analogy, and its cumulative, long-term effects.In addition to the work he has done relating to football, he studies other contact sports such as hockey, soccer, baseball and rugby.One of his main focuses over the past few years has been searching for ways to detect and diagnose CTE during life, work that is being funded by the National Institutes of Health.
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The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health released a statement Tuesday disputing an ESPN report Tuesday morning that the NFL revoked funding for a study on “the relationship between football and brain disease.” The ESPN report said the NFL vetoed the use of funds from a $30 million gift to the foundation — a charity created by Congress to raise funds for the National Institutes of Health — in 2012 for a particular study to be conducted by Boston University researcher Robert Stern. McCarthy later told BuzzFeed News the league “has no ‘veto power’ as part of its unrestricted $30 million grant to NIH.” An ESPN spokesman told BuzzFeed News the report “has been updated to reflect the content of the just-released FNIH statement and we stand by our reporting.”
The NFL had agreed in writing to donate $30 million to the National Institutes of Health to fund brain research, but after the NIH awarded a $16 million grant to Boston University researcher Robert Stern — an expert on the link between football and the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy — the league withdrew its donation, forcing taxpayers to pick up the cost, a government report concluded. The league’s actions violated NIH policy on donors interfering in the grant process and were part of a “long-standing pattern of attempts” by the NFL to steer concussion research in the direction it wanted, the 91-page report concluded. “Since its research agreement with NIH was clear that it could not weigh in on the grant selection process, the NFL should never have tried to influence that process.” The NFL, which denied the allegations when ESPN first exposed them in an “Outside the Lines” report, acknowledged raising concerns about him but continues to insist it was done appropriately despite evidence to the contrary.
Researchers at Boston University conducted a long-term study of 214 former football players, including 68 who played in the NFL and another 103 who played through college, the New York Times noted. The study ultimately found that those who played youth football before the age of 12 were twice as likely to have “problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive function” and were three times more likely to have “clinically elevated depression scores.” “The brain is going through this incredible time of growth between the years of 10 and 12, and if you subject that developing brain to repetitive head impacts, it may cause problems later in life,” said Robert Stern, one of the study’s authors. The study dovetails with other recent research that has revealed elevated risks of long-term brain development issues for those who play football and other sports where head injuries are common.