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NIH plans use of NFL money for brain injury research

Part of a $30 million grant provided to the National Institutes of Health by the National Football League is now becoming part of a plan. The NFL gave the money in a grant to the NIH, but left it up to the Institute to decide how the money should be used.

The focus of the money was to be studying traumatic brain injuries. Now, the NIH says it will spend $12 million to study chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) with the goal of discovering the disease in living people. Currently the disease is only diagnosed through autopsies of people who have died.

This condition has been linked to people with brain injuries and causes cognitive issues and might result in mental illness. People who commit suicide after suffering from brain injuries are sometimes diagnosed posthumously with CTE.

Another $2 million of the money will be divided up among six institutions to study how concussions affect young athletes. Although many athletes suffer from concussions and brain injuries, there are many other ways in which a person can suffer a severe injury.

This research will hopefully result in a more significant understanding of how the brain works, and how brain injuries occur. Discovering more about the internal chemical and physical structures of the brain before and after a brain injury occurs will hopefully lead to better treatment options for all people with brain injuries in West Virginia and across the world. While this research will likely take many years, it is important that more resources are starting to focus on these debilitating injuries.

Source: The New York Times, "Delving Into Brain Injuries With the N.F.L.'s Money," Ken Belson, Dec. 16, 2013

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