NFL Implicated in Influencing Brain Injury Research

brain scanGiven the enormous attention to sports-related concussions and the long-term implications of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) for professional athletes, it should not come as a surprise that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) developed a brain injury study. What has come as a surprise, however, are allegations that the NFL “improperly attempted to influence the grant review process” for that study, according to a recent report from NFL.com. The allegations came through a report issued by New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone following concerns about bias.

Do the recent allegations suggest that certain studies may not be providing accurate information about the dangers of NFL concussions and rates of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among ex-football players? To better understand the implications of Pallone’s report, we should take a closer look at the specific allegations levied against the NFL.

Details of the Congressional Report

What are all of the allegations contained within the congressional report? According to a recent article from ESPN.com, the report is 91 pages in length, and it “describes how the NFL pressured the National Institutes of Health to strip the $16 million project [a brain injury study] from a prominent Boston University researcher and tried to redirect the money to members of the league’s committee on brain injuries.” In 2012, the NFL provided an “unrestricted gift” of $30 million for this study, but the congressional report suggests that the NFL has interfered unfairly with its use.

Specifically, the report alleges that the “NFL’s actions violated policies that prohibit private donors from interfering in the NIH peer-review process,” and that the NFL’s recent behavior was in line with “a long-standing pattern of attempts by the league to shape concussion research for its own purposes,” according to ESPN.com. The report is the product of an investigation that began back in December 2015 following a report from Outside the Lines about the NFL’s backpedaling from the NIH study. The primary goal of the study was to find a way to detect CTE in living patients, providing hope for treatment.

According to Pallone’s language in the report, “our investigation has shown that, while the NFL had been publicly proclaiming its role as funder and accelerator of important research, it was privately attempting to influence that research.” Without the NFL’s financial involvement in the study, taxpayers may have to bear the burden of funding the important research.

Taxpayer Burdens and Brain Injury Research Funding

As the NFL.com report explains, the NFL has not attempted to redirect or pull all of the $30 million initially allocated for brain injury research. Since the gift in 2012, about $12 million has already been earmarked for pathology studies on CTE. Given that the disease can only currently be diagnosed postmortem, much research has focused on studying the brains of former, deceased NFL players who exhibited symptoms of CTE during their lifetimes.

However, the congressional report focuses on $16 million of that NFL gift that the league allegedly has attempted to redirect. It is extremely important, Pallone articulates, to uphold the integrity of scientific research conducted through the NIH. According to ESPN.com, Pallone hopes that the congressional report will urge the NFL to change the way it approaches brain injury studies and to commit to an ethics of research funding.

In the meantime, if you or someone you love sustained sports-related concussions and have symptoms of CTE, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. An experienced brain injury lawyer in San Diego can assist with your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.

See Related Blog Posts:
Brain Injury Markers Present in Former NFL Players
Mild Head Injuries Cause Long-Term Impairments

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