Archives for category: Health

You may want to check that helmet if you’re an NFL player this year.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) announced the results of an annual laboratory study to assess the performance of football helmets worn by NFL players.

Based on the results of this study and the opinions of the biomechanical experts involved, the NFL and NFLPA will prohibit 10 helmet models from being worn by NFL players. In previous seasons, NFL players could choose any helmet as long as the helmet passed current National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) certification standards. The prohibited helmets perform poorly in laboratory testing, have been discontinued by the manufacturer or were produced by companies no longer manufacturing football helmets. Six of these helmets are prohibited immediately. The other four may be worn by players who were using them in 2017 but may not be adopted by new players.

The results of the laboratory tests are displayed on a poster and shared with NFL players, club equipment managers, and club medical, training and coaching staffs to help inform equipment choices. Other factors, in addition to the ranking, should be considered by players when choosing a helmet, including fit, comfort, durability, player position and the player’s medical history. View the poster here:

The goal of the study, as in prior years, was to determine which helmets best reduced head impact severity under laboratory conditions simulating concussion-causing impacts sustained by NFL players during games. The helmet laboratory testing involved 34 helmet models—a survey of helmets used by NFL teams indicates that at least 98% of players are wearing helmet models that have been tested in this study.

The study continues to measure rotational velocity and acceleration as part of a combined metric to evaluate helmets. The NFL/NFLPA evaluation is the first of its kind to adopt rotational measures in its analysis.

The tests were conducted by an independent helmet testing laboratory, Biokinetics Incorporation of Ottawa, Canada. The study formulation, experimental design and data analysis were performed by biomechanical engineering consultants selected and appointed by the NFL and NFLPA. An independent biostatistician, Dr. Timothy McMurry, Assistant Professor of Biomechanics at University of Virginia, Department of Public Health Sciences, was retained to assist in the analysis of the data. The results were then presented to the NFL Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Sills and to the NFLPA and its Medical Director, Dr. Thom Mayer.

Note: the results of this study should not be extrapolated to collegiate, high school or youth football.

In other NFL head-related news…

The NFL has named Dr. Nicholas Theodroe as their chairman of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, a board of independent and NFL-affiliated physicians and scientists, including advisors for the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). The committee brings together some of the foremost experts in brain and spinal trauma to advise the league on neuroscience, concussion and other health and safety issues.

Dr. Theodore is the Donlin M. Long Professor of Neurosurgery, Orthopaedics and Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Director of the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgical Spine Center. His research focuses on trauma, brain and spinal cord injuries, minimally invasive surgery and robotics. He has also served as the team neurosurgeon for the Arizona Cardinals and as a consultant to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Coyotes.

“At the NFL, we are grateful for the medical and scientific experts who shape our health and safety initiatives and I look forward to working with Dr. Theodore in his new leadership position,” Dr. Allen Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer told the New York Times and USA Today. “His clinical expertise—in addition to his extensive experience in injury prevention—will further advance our commitment to player health and safety.”

“Dr. Theodore will be a dynamic leader of the Head, Neck and Spine Committee at a time when significant progress is being made in injury surveillance, athlete care and scientific research,” said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Health and Safety Initiatives. “He will build on the substantial work of the previous leaders and further advance the health and safety of our sport.”

Under Dr. Theodore’s leadership, he and other experts who volunteer their time on the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee will continue to advise the NFL on medical policies, procedures and protocols, in addition to identifying and recommending medical research that impacts the health and safety of NFL players. The committee also analyzes injury data and proposes interventions, creates and supervises focused research groups with specific goals and aims to improve public education and advocacy for enhanced sports safety.

The NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee developed the NFL Game Day Concussion Diagnosis and Management Protocol in 2011, which is reviewed each year to ensure players are receiving care that reflects the most up-to-date medical consensus on the identification, diagnosis and treatment of concussions. In March, the Concussion Protocol was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM), which marked the first sports league protocol of its kind to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Until June 2016, Dr. Theodore was the Volker K. H. Sonntag Endowed Chair and Chief of the Spine Section in the Division of Neurological Surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, where he worked on the development of Barrow BrainbookÓ, a statewide concussion education program in Arizona.

Dr. Theodore graduated from Cornell University and attended medical school at Georgetown University, where he graduated with honors. After completing his internship at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Dr. Theodore served as a Senior General Medical Officer with the United States Marine Corps in Okinawa, Japan. After completing his neurosurgical residency and fellowship in spinal surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute in 2001, he served as Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at Naval Medical Center San Diego, overseeing the largest neurosurgery complement in the Navy.

Dr. Theodore is actively involved in the area of preventative medicine within neurosurgery. He is the former Medical Director and President of the ThinkFirst Foundation, a national injury prevention and educational organization focused on brain and spinal injuries.

About the NFL’s Health and Safety Initiatives: The NFL is committed to advancing progress in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries. As part of the NFL’s ongoing health and safety efforts, in September 2016, Commissioner Goodell launched Play Smart. Play Safe.—a league-wide health and safety initiative. At the heart of the initiative is a pledge of $100 million in support for independent medical research and engineering advancements and a commitment to look at anything and everything to protect our players and make our game safer, including enhancements to medical protocols and improvements to how our game is taught and played. For more information about the NFL’s health and safety efforts, please visit

For more information on the NFL’s medical committees, please visit:

For more information on the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, please visit

The National Football League and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that veteran media executive Mary Ann Turcke has been named President, Digital Media and NFL Network.

Turcke has served since April 2015 as President of Bell Media, a division of Bell Canada, where she successfully led Canada’s largest media company and was responsible for their flagship television channels and annual revenues of more than $3B (CAD). She will be based in the league’s Los Angeles office, reporting to NFL EVP of Media Brian Rolapp.

As President, Digital Media and NFL Network, Turcke will be responsible for leading the operations of the NFL Network, as well as overseeing NFL owned and operated media assets including NFL Films, NFL Digital and Turcke will also oversee digital product development and execute against the NFL’s content strategy and roadmap.

“We are delighted to have an individual of Mary Ann’s talent and expertise joining the NFL to lead the NFL Network, NFL Films and our digital and technology groups across the organization,” Goodell told the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. “Mary Ann has distinguished herself throughout her career, not only managing the complicatedbroadcast operations of Bell Media but also growing their media sales and leading their telecommunications and IT services. I am confident that our teams in Los Angeles, New Jersey and New York will greatly benefit from the breadthof her experience and her vision for the future.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the NFL, one of the greatest and most exciting brands in the world,” Turcke said. “I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity to lead this team and work closely with  Brian to focus and grow the NFL Network, NFL Films, and our digital and technology assets.”

Turcke has spent 12 years at Bell Canada, where prior to being named President of Bell Media she served as Group President, Media Sales, Local TV and Radio, where she leveraged Bell Media properties and brands across all platforms to support their strong position in the competitive marketplace.

Prior to her time at Bell Media, Turcke was Executive Vice President, Field Operations for Bell Canada. In that role, she was responsible for the construction and management of Bell Canada’s telecommunications services, including all of their residential and business customers. Previous to that, Turcke was Vice President, Customer Experience, Small Medium Business, responsible for customer service operations, sales support and IT functions.

Earlier in her career, Turcke was a partner and member of the Board of Directors at Codesta LLC, a software consultancy group that specializes in enterprise applications and solutions.

Mrs. Turcke is on the board of the SickKids Foundation, Toronto Argonauts GP Incorporated and Greenwood College School. She holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, a Master of Engineering from the University of Toronto and a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University.

In other NFL News…

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell named Dr. Allen Sill as the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), a new full-time position based in New York.

Dr. Sills joins the NFL from Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he serves as Professor of Neurological Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation and Founder and Co-Director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.

Dr. Sills, a neurosurgeon who has specialized in the treatment of athletes, will strengthen the NFL’s ongoing efforts to advance the health and safety of the sport. He will work closely with team medical staffs across the league, the NFL Players Association and its advisors and the many medical and scientific experts who comprise the NFL’s medical committees and guide the NFL’s health and research efforts.

“There is no higher priority for the NFL than player health and safety and we continually seek to raise our standards and then surpass them,” said Commissioner Goodell. “We sought a highly-credentialed physician and leader with experience as a clinician and researcher, and Dr. Sills’ extensive experience caring for athletes makes him the right choice for this important position.”

“We conducted an intensive international search which included many leading experts in sports medicine,” said Dr. John York, Co-chairman, San Francisco 49ers and Chairman of the NFL Owners’ Health and Safety Advisory Committee. “Dr. Sills stood out among the highly credentialed and qualified applicants.”

The appointment follows a rigorous search conducted by a premier panel of health and medical experts led by Dr. Betsy Nabel, Chief Health and Medical Advisor to the NFL and President of Brigham Health and including Dr. Rob Heyer, President of the NFL Physicians Society and Team Internist for the Carolina Panthers, Ronnie Barnes, Senior Vice President, Medical Services and Head Athletic Trainer for the New York Giants, Dr. Robert Cantu, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery and Co-Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Boston University School of Medicine and Peter Foss of GE Healthcare.

The panel worked closely with Dr. John York and and Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Health and Safety Initiatives. The NFL consulted with the NFL Players Association, including interviewing the final candidates. Dr. Sills will be reporting to Miller.

“I have been impressed by the talent and experience of the candidates I have met during this process,” said Dr. Nabel. “Dr. Sills has years of experience on the frontlines of both research and patient care and I am confident that Dr. Sills will use this platform to continue his work to improve sports health and safety in the NFL and for all athletes.”

“Hiring Dr. Sills is a touchdown for the NFL,” Dr. Cantu told USA Today and the Associated Press. “He is an international leader for his work on concussions in sports. I look forward to working with him to further advance the NFL’s ongoing commitment to the health and safety of sports.”

Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Sills has worked with numerous professional and collegiate sports programs. In addition to providing care for players on NFL sidelines as an Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant, he has served as a neurological consultant to the NCAA and the International Equestrian Foundation (FEI). He has also worked as consulting neurosurgeon for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, the NHL’s Nashville Predators, the US Equestrian Foundation and all Vanderbilt University, Belmont University and Mississippi State University athletic teams.

“Allen Sills is an exceptional leader who will bring the perspective of a practicing neurosurgeon to this important position,” said Dr. Reid Thompson, Chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “He is an avid athlete and gifted surgeon with a passion for the care of elite athletes. With a combination of energy, vision and absolute integrity he is an inspired choice to become the first Chief Medical Officer of the NFL.”

Dr. Sills is an active researcher who has published more than 150 scientific articles and presentations including more than 40 in the last five years on the topic of sports concussion. He is a member of the Concussion in Sport Group, which publishes international standards regarding concussion in sport. Dr. Sills is also a fellow of the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American College of Surgeons and currently serves as Section Editor for Sports and Rehabilitation for the journal Neurosurgery.

Previously, Dr. Sills has served as Founder and Executive Director, Memphis Regional Brain Tumor Center; Director of the Neuroscience Institute at Methodist University Hospital, Memphis; Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee, Memphis and the Semmes-Murphey Clinic; and Chief, Division of Neurosurgery at the Memphis Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Dr. Sills graduated summa cum laude from Mississippi State University with a degree in engineering and received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, where he also completed his internship in General Surgery, his residency training in Neurological Surgery and an NIH-funded Neuro-Oncology Fellowship.

Dr. Sills and his wife Shawne live in Tennessee and have four children. He serves on the Board of Directors for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County Tennessee and has served as a youth baseball coach for more than 20 years.

About Play Smart. Play Safe.: In September 2016, Commissioner Goodell launched Play Smart. Play Safe.—an initiative to drive progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries, enhance medical protocols and further improve the way the game is taught and played. As part of the initiative, the NFL and its 32 club owners pledged $100 million to help spur independent medical research and engineering advancements. For more information about the initiative, please visit

Got milk?

Got football?

As part of their efforts to improve youth health and wellness, the NFL and its partners announced a renewed commitment to the “Hometown Grants” program. Developed by the NFL and Fuel Up to Play 60 in 2014, the initiative provides grants to support physical activity and nutrition programs in school districts in all 32 NFL markets. This year, the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition will join the partnership, which to date has provided nearly $1 million to schools across the country.

“We are pleased to renew our commitment to the Hometown Grants program, which has been an important part of our work to improve the health and wellness of youth,” said Anna Isaacson, NFL senior vice president of social responsibility. “We look forward to continue working with our 32 clubs and our partners to make sure all kids have the chance to ‘PLAY 60’ and empower them to lead healthy lives.”

The renewed commitment was announced at an event at Allendale Elementary School, where the partners will present officials from Colorado’s Jefferson County School District with a $10,000 Hometown Grant and $30,000 in additional equipment and resources for its student programs and facilities. The event featured:

A special appearance by singer, songwriter and founder of the M.A.D. Kids program Jordin Sparks.

A PLAY 60 clinic led by Sparks, former Denver Broncos LB Karl Mecklenburg, Broncos mascot MILES and Broncos cheerleaders.

An assembly with more than 200 students focused on the importance of healthy eating and staying active.

Through the Hometown Grants program, NFL teams and state/regional dairy organizations identify deserving schools in their communities to receive funding to help facilitate sustainable physical activity and healthy eating programs for students. Since 2014, the program has provided more than 700 schools with funds and resources, resulting in more than one million students staying physically active and making healthier food choices.

“Mobilizing communities to advocate for and implement healthy changes in schools nationwide requires collaboration at the local and national level,” said Mark Leitner, executive vice president, Fuel Up to Play 60. “Fuel Up to Play 60 is making an impact in schools through the unwavering support of the NFL and leaders like the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Working together we are able to empower students, teachers and entire communities to go from zero to sixty every day by fueling up with nutritious foods and being physically active for at least 60 minutes.”

This year, the National Foundation on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition will join the partnership and provide resources, such as assessment software, training tools and student recognition, to enable schools to implement the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, the nation’s youth fitness education and assessment program. The donation is being made as part of the Foundation’s #0to60 campaign honoring the 60th Anniversary of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition which launched the new “#0to60” anthem, featuring Sparks, in partnership with Sparks’ M.A.D. Kids program.

“The Foundation is proud to join the NFL and Fuel Up to Play 60 to improve the health and well-being of our nation’s youth through the Hometown Grants program,” said Chris Watts, executive director, National Foundation on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. “We’re also excited to engage with health and wellness leaders, like Jordin Sparks, to empower students to be fit for life.”

To join Fuel Up to Play 60 and learn more about the program, please visit

About Fuel Up to Play 60: Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Football League (NFL) and National Dairy Council (NDC), which was founded by America’s dairy farmers, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Fuel Up to Play 60 is designed to engage and empower youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools. The program additionally encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. As a result of the program, last year 14 million students made better food choices and are getting more physically active during the school day. Fuel Up to Play 60 is further supported by several health and nutrition organizations: Action for Healthy Kids, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Association/Foundation, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association and School Nutrition Association. Visit to learn more.

About NFL PLAY 60: Designed to encourage kids to get active, NFL PLAY 60 brings together the NFL’s long-standing commitment to health and fitness with partner organizations. Since PLAY 60 was launched in 2007, the NFL has committed more than $250 million to youth health and fitness through programming, grants and media time for public service announcements. The NFL and its teams have constructed more than 175 NFL Youth Fitness Zones and integrated programs into more than 73,000 schools since the campaign launched. NFL PLAY 60 is also implemented locally, as part of the NFL’s in-school, after-school and team-based programs. For more information, visit

About National Dairy Council: National Dairy Council (NDC), the non-profit organization founded by dairy farmers and funded by the national dairy check off program, has been committed to research-based nutrition education and communications since its start in 1915. NDC is dedicated to bringing to life the dairy community’s shared vision of a healthy, happy, sustainable world – with science as its foundation. NDC’s staff of registered dietitians, researchers, and nutrition experts promote dairy’s role as part of a balanced diet, as well as educate people about the farm-to-table, table-to-farm connection. NDC has helped launch groundbreaking programs to benefit the health and wellness of children and adults, including Fuel Up to Play 60, which encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods and achieve 60 minutes of physical activity each day. NDC has also helped launch the Future of Food Partnership and The Great American Milk Drive, which both address food insecurity in America. For more information, visit and and follow NDC on Facebook and Twitter (@NtlDairyCouncil).

About National Foundation on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition: The National Foundation on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition believes that the strongest America is one where every citizen has the opportunity to lead a healthy lifestyle. As the official foundation of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, the National Foundation is the only congressionally chartered nonprofit with the sole focus to help more Americans be active, play sports & eat healthy. Through private donations and partnerships, the Foundation supports programs and initiatives that educate, engage and empower Americans of all backgrounds and abilities to adopt a healthy lifestyle. For more information, visit

The National Football League and the Texas Medical Center (TMC) announced the launch of 1st and Future, the league’s annual Super Bowl start-up competition, to be held at the TMC Innovation Institute in Houston on Saturday, February 4, the day before Super Bowl LI.

The 1st and Future competition will focus on innovations that advance sports technology and athlete safety. Start-ups were allowed to submit entries in three categories— Communicating with the Athlete, Training the Athlete and Materials to Protect the Athlete—for the chance to pitch their innovation to competition judges and an exclusive audience, including NFL team owners and executives and representatives from the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee and Texas Medical Center.

“We’re pleased to partner with the Texas Medical Center on this initiative to fuel innovation and advance athlete safety,” Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Health and Safety Policy told KPRC-TV, KHOU-TV and the Houston Chronicle. “The NFL will use its biggest stage—the Super Bowl—to continue to catalyze the development of technologies and other products that will help improve the game and promote the safety of athletes across all sports.”

The NFL and TMC will select up to nine companies from the three categories to compete in Houston. One winner from each category will be selected by a panel of judges comprising former NFL players, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. The winners will receive a $50,000 prize from the NFL to further develop their innovation; acceptance into TMCx, TMC’s world-renowned program for start-ups and two tickets to Super Bowl LI.

“TMC provides a one-of-a-kind environment where the best and brightest minds in health and technology and private companies can collaborate to drive breakthrough ideas to market and transform the health of humanity,” said Dr. Robert C. Robbins, president and CEO of TMC. “The NFL and TMC both value healthy competition, prioritize the safety of the athletes and know that we can achieve more through teamwork and collaboration. We are partnering to give sports technology and safety companies this career-changing opportunity to help advance sports and shape the future of athlete health and safety.”

TMC will livestream the 1st and Future event on the TMC website as contestants compete in the following three categories:

•Communicating with the Athlete: New technologies that will improve the secure and safe means of communication between a coach on the sideline or in the coaches’ booth and a designated player on the field.

•Training the Athlete: Educational and training innovations designed to reduce injury during practice or competition. Innovations may include training techniques or equipment.

•Materials to Protect the Athlete: Novel or innovative solutions and materials that advance player health and safety while allowing for the highest-level of performance. Innovations may include but are not limited to, materials that: improve breathability, heat dissipation or provide better protection for players by absorbing or mitigating force. These materials may be incorporated into protective equipment, padding, uniforms or footwear among other potential uses.

About TMC: Home to 57 member institutions, including 21 hospitals, 13 support organizations, nine academic and research institutions, six nursing programs, three public health organizations, three medical schools, two universities, two pharmacy schools and a dental school, TMC operates the world’s largest medical city with eight million patients and family encounters with doctors, nurses and staff at TMC every year. TMC is dedicated to reinventing life sciences to improve the health and wellness of Houston and the world. Learn more at

The National Football League has assembled a Scientific Advisory Board comprising leading independent experts, doctors, scientists and clinicians to develop and lead a clear process to identify and support compelling proposals for scientific research.

The establishment of the NFL’s Scientific Advisory Board follows the launch of the new Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative that Commissioner Roger Goodell announced in September. As part of the initiative, the NFL has allotted $100 million for medical research and engineering advancements, including $40 million in funding for medical research over the next five years, primarily dedicated to neuroscience.

The board will develop a process for soliciting, reviewing and evaluating research proposals and directing funding. The board will leverage the expertise of the NFL’s medical committee members, including members of the Head, Neck and Spine Committee, to identify and develop research priorities.

The board will provide its recommendations to Dr. Betsy Nabel, the NFL’s chief health and medical advisor. “We have assembled an impressive group of experts to advise the NFL’s future medical and scientific research investments,” Dr. Nabel told USA Today and the Associated Press. “We are grateful for the expertise the Scientific Advisory Board will provide the NFL as it prepares to support important new research.”

The NFL’s Scientific Advisory Board includes:

General Peter Chiarelli (Retired.), Chairman: General Chiarelli, U.S. Army General (Retired), is Chief Executive Officer of
One Mind, a brain illness related non-profit organization who works with members in the governmental, corporate, scientific and philanthropic communities to greatly accelerate large-scale research through “Open Science” data sharing and collaboration. One Mind’s current focus is on a new approach to diagnose, treat and cure post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). He is a retired General with almost 40 years of experience. As the 32nd Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, he led the Department of Defense efforts on post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and suicide prevention. In this role, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Army and its 1.1 million active and reserve soldiers, including the oversight of many of the Army’s R&D programs, and the implementation of recommendations related to its behavioral health programs, specifically its Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Program. In 2013, Chiarelli received the Patriot Award, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s highest honor for his work to help soldiers and families suffering from the invisible wounds of war.

David Hovda, Ph.D.: Dr. Hovda is the Director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. He is Past President of the National Neurotrauma and International Neurotrauma Societies. He has served as Chair of study sections for the National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS). He has received a number of awards for his research on brain injury and recovery of function, including the 1991 National Head Injury Foundation Award, the Giannini Foundation Award, the Benjamin Franklin Haught Memorial Award, the 2008 Deborah L. Warden Lectureship Award and named the Lind Lawrence Eminent Scholar for his work on the topic of Traumatic Brain Injury. In 2011, the Secretary of the Army presented Dr. Hovda the “Strength of the Nation Award”, the highest award given to a civilian from the United States Army, in recognition of Dr. Hovda’s efforts to help military personnel suffering from mild traumatic brain injury returning from theater. Dr. Hovda is internationally known for his translational work on the pathobiology of traumatic brain injury and has devoted most of his career to understanding the mechanisms of recovery of function.

Douglas H. Smith, M.D.: Dr. Smith serves as Director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair and is the Robert A. Groff Endowed Professor and Vice Chairman for Research and Education in Neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Smith is also the Scientific Director for the Big 10/ Ivy League consortium on concussion. For research awards, he is director of several multi-center National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense grants on concussion and TBI-induced neurodegeneration, as well as for an NIH training grant on brain injury. His group has demonstrated that damage to the brain’s network, called “diffuse axonal injury,” is a fundamental mechanism of concussion. This has led to the development of diagnostic tools to identify concussed individuals who will have poor outcomes. In addition, his group has discovered mechanisms of concussion and more severe TBI that lead to progressive neurodegeneration, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Recent scientific awards for these contributions include the Dorothy Russell Medal, the highest honor conveyed by the British Neuropathological Society.

David J. Shulkin, M.D.: The Honorable Dr. David J. Shulkin is Under Secretary for Health for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. As the Chief Executive of the Veterans Health Administration, Dr. Shulkin leads the nation’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving 8.76 million Veterans each year. The Veterans Health Administration is also the nation’s largest provider of graduate medical education and major contributor of medical research. Dr. Shulkin oversees the health system that employs over 300,000 people. Prior to being nominated by President Obama and being confirmed by the United States Senate as Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Shulkin served in numerous chief executive roles including serving as President at Morristown Medical Center, Goryeb Children’s Hospital and Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute, and the Atlantic Health System Accountable Care Organization. Dr. Shulkin also previously served as President and CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. As an entrepreneur, Dr. Shulkin founded and served as the Chairman and CEO of DoctorQuality one of the first consumer-oriented sources of information for quality and safety in healthcare.

Colonel Sidney Hinds, M.D., M.C.: Colonel Hinds is a Brain Health Research Program Coordinator at the Department of Defense, where he coordinates neurological and psychological protection, prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation research as it pertains to blast injury. He previously served as the national director of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), which serves active duty military and veterans with traumatic brain injury through state-of-the-art medical care and care coordination, and innovative clinical research and educational programs. Before that, he was the deputy director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute for Military Medical Operations, the theater neurologist in Afghanistan, and chief of Nuclear Medicine Services at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. While deployed to Afghanistan from February to July 2012, he oversaw standardization of care at 11 concussion care centers as the theater neurology consultant.

Shelly D. Timmons, M.D., Ph.D.: Dr. Timmons serves as Director of Neurotrauma, Vice Chair for the Administration Department of Neurosurgery, and Professor of Neurosurgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. She has been a clinical researcher for a number of years, and has participated as principal investigator in numerous clinical trials related to traumatic brain injury. She has published and lectured on a variety of topics related to traumatic brain injury, neurocritical care, spinal cord injury, blunt vascular injury, and health care delivery throughout her career. She has held a variety of professional organizational positions, including Director-at-Large for the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Board of Directors, Chair of the Section on Neurotrauma and Neurocritical Care of the AANS and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), Governor and Chair of the Neurosurgery Advisory Council of the American College of Surgeons, and Scientific Counsellor for the Centers for Disease Control Center for Injury Control and Prevention.

For more information about Play Smart. Play Safe and to read the Commissioner’s letter to fans, please visit

For more information on the NFL’s Commitment to Medical Research, please visit

In other NFL-health news…

The NFL Foundation, in collaboration with Gatorade, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS), this week announced the launch of a pilot program to provide funding to public high schools with football programs that have limited or no access to an athletic trainer. This program is an expansion of the athletic trainer initiatives developed and implemented by the NFL Foundation and its partners over the past two years.

The NFL Foundation will award up to 150 grants to high schools in the four pilot states. Each grant will be in the amount of $35,000 awarded over a three-year period to fund an athletic training program. The number of grants provided will be at the discretion of an appointed review panel.

“The NFL is committed to enhancing the safety of football at all levels,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We are proud of the important work that athletic trainers do on the sidelines and in training facilities nationwide. We look forward to testing this pilot program as part of our effort to increase access to athletic trainers in local communities and improve sports safety for many more young athletes.”

“The NFL Foundation is proud that this athletic trainer pilot program, one that was originally developed at the club level, is expanding to serve more young athletes,” said NFL Foundation Chairman Charlotte Jones Anderson. “NFL teams have long seen the value of athletic trainers’ knowledge, and experience when it comes to health and safety and this program will help provide that same expertise at the high school level.”

An athletic trainer is a licensed medical professional who has specific expertise in preventing, recognizing, treating and rehabilitating athletic injuries. However, nearly two-thirds of high schools across the country lack a full-time athletic trainer and almost thirty percent of high schools do not have any athletic trainer at all. This pilot program will test ways in which to address this issue.

“The National Athletic Trainers’ Association is committed to enhancing the quality of health care that young athletes receive through access to athletic trainers,” said NATA President Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC. “Together, we can ensure best practices are put in place in underserved schools, to reduce risk of injury and make sports safer for all communities.”

This pilot program builds on the NFL Foundation’s athletic trainer grant program established two years ago to help NFL teams increase access to athletic trainers in their communities. To date, 20 NFL clubs have utilized these grants to support local schools and leagues. This program has underscored the need for funding for athletic trainers and provided useful insight into potential methods of addressing this need.

“For more than 50 years, we’ve been committed to athletes’ safety, performance and success – and based on this experience, we know how important athletic trainers are to our mission,” said Jeff Kearney, head of Gatorade Sports Marketing. “We’re excited to build on the success of our 2015 efforts and believe this program is an important part of our overall commitment to helping ensure the safety of the more than eight million high school athletes in the U.S.”

The Korey Stringer Institute will lead the administration of the grant program and conduct research to assess the impact of the pilot program and the effect of athletic trainers on student athlete health outcomes.

“The massive responsibility of keeping many hundreds of athletes safe at a particular high school should never be the responsibility of a sport coach or the athletic director, they have no training to properly handle this task,” said KSI Chief Executive Officer Douglas Casa, PhD, ATC, FNAK, FACSM, FNATA. “We are very proud to partner with this grant program that has a primary goal of increasing the number of schools serviced by an athletic trainer and to enhance the amount of medical care for those that already have some.”

“The Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society is proud to partner with the NFL Foundation, NATA and Gatorade to increase the number of athletic trainers available to high school students across the country,” said Rick Burkholder, MS, ATC, PFATS president and head athletic trainer of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Further information on the program and the grant process and eligibility can be found at:

About The NFL Foundation: The National Football League Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football – from players at all levels to communities across the country. The NFL Foundation represents the 32 NFL clubs and supports the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football, and the communities that support our game. For more information on The NFL Foundation, visit:

About NATA: National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) – Health Care for Life & Sport – Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and sport-related illnesses. They prevent and treat chronic musculoskeletal injuries from sports, physical and occupational activity and provide immediate care for acute injuries. Athletic trainers offer a continuum of care that is unparalleled in health care. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents and supports 44,000 members of the athletic training profession. Visit To learn more about how athletic trainers are uniquely qualified to mitigate risk visit, NATA’s public awareness campaign designed to educate, provide resources and equip the public to act and advocate for safety in work, life and sport.

About Gatorade: The Gatorade Company, a division of PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), provides sports performance innovations designed to meet the needs of athletes at all competitive levels and across a broad range of sports. Backed by a 50 year history of studying the best athletes in the world and grounded in years of hydration and sports nutrition research at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, Gatorade provides scientifically formulated products to meet the sports fueling needs of athletes in all phases of athletic activity. For more information and a full list of products, please visit

About KSI: The Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) is housed in the Department of Kinesiology within the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut (UConn). UConn’s Department of Kinesiology has a strong tradition and reputation as one of the leading institutions studying health and safety issues for athletes and the physically active. The mission of KSI is to provide research, education, advocacy and consultation to maximize performance, optimize safety and prevent sudden death for the athlete, soldier and laborer. For more information, visit:

About PFATS: The Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) is a Professional Association representing the athletic trainers of the National Football League. We serve the players of the NFL, the member Clubs and other members of the community.  Our purpose is to insure the highest quality of health care is provided to the National Football League. We are dedicated to the welfare of our members and committed to the promotion and advancement of athletic training through education and research.  The Society is founded on the professional integrity and the ethical standards of our members and the fellowship that exists among us. “PFATS cares to make a difference.”

The National Football League Tuesday released the 2016 Health and Safety Report, which includes a preview of what is to come under the NFL’s new Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative, along with a summary of progress, programs and efforts currently underway. The 2016 report can be found at

“Our goal is to better inform our players, clubs and NFL fans of what we are doing to make football safer at all levels,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a letter introducing the 2016 NFL Health and Safety Report. “Our work toward this goal will never be finished—as we continue to learn more from science, data, collaboration with independent experts and experience, we will make further changes. I look forward to reporting even more progress this time next year.”

In September, Commissioner Goodell announced the launch of Play Smart. Play Safe. —an initiative to drive progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries, enhance medical protocols and further improve the way the game is taught and played. To begin the initiative, the NFL and its 32 club owners pledged an additional $100 million in support of independent medical research and engineering advancements—building on the $100 million that the NFL and its partners are already spending on medical and neuroscience research.

Since 2012, the NFL has released an annual report highlighting the league’s ongoing commitment to health and safety. The NFL’s fifth annual report includes information and updates under the four overarching pillars of the Play Smart. Play Safe. initiative:

Protecting Players: Making changes on and off the field to protect the health and safety of every player in the NFL.

Advanced Technology: Championing new developments in engineering, biomechanics, advanced sensors and material science that mitigate forces and better prevent against injuries in sports.

Medical Research: Supporting independent research to advance progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head injuries and accelerate scientific understanding of their long-term impact.

Sharing Progress: Sharing what the NFL learns across all levels of football—and to other sports and society at large.

Furthering their commitment to protecting the health and safety of NFL players, the NFL and NFLPA Monday announced an agreement to enforce the NFL Game Day Concussion Protocol and discipline clubs that violate it. Under the new policy, the NFL and NFLPA will follow a strict and fair process to investigate incidents and determine appropriate discipline, including club fines and possible forfeiture of draft picks.

In a release from the league’s office in New York City, the NFL and NFLPA, in conjunction with their medical advisory committees, implemented the NFL Game Day Concussion Protocol to address the diagnosis and management of concussions. The parties consistently review the Concussion Protocol to ensure that players are receiving care that reflects the most up to date medical consensus. The new policy sets forth disciplinary action against a club should a member of its medical staff or other employee fail to follow the Concussion Protocol.

According to the policy, the NFL and NFLPA will each designate a representative to monitor the implementation of the protocol and investigate potential violations. The investigation will not reach medical conclusions; it will only determine whether the protocol was followed. Following the investigation, the NFL and NFLPA will review the findings to determine if a violation occurred and if so, to recommend the proper disciplinary response. If the parties are unable to agree, the matter will be brought to a third party arbitrator. After conducting a thorough review, the arbitrator will issue a report to the Commissioner, NFLPA Executive Director and the involved parties.

As jointly agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA, the Commissioner retains absolute discretion in determining penalties for violations of the concussion protocol.

Potential disciplinary action includes:

A first violation will require the club employees or medical team members  involved to attend remedial education; and/or result in a maximum fine of $150,000 against the club.

Second and subsequent violations of the concussion protocol will result in a minimum fine of $100,000 against the club.

In the event the parties agree that a violation involved aggravating circumstances, the club shall be subject, in the first instance, to a fine no less than $50,000. The Commissioner shall determine appropriate discipline for subsequent violations involving aggravating circumstances.

In the event that the Commissioner determines that the club’s medical team failed to follow the protocol due to competitive considerations, the Commissioner may require the club to forfeit draft pick(s) and impose additional fines exceeding those amounts set forth above.

The enforcement policy is one of many collaborations between the NFL and NFLPA to improve player health and safety:

· The NFL and NFLPA launched the NFL Electronic Medical Record (EMR) System across all 32 NFL clubs prior to the start of the 2014 season, resulting in more uniform and detailed injury data. The injury data is reviewed annually by the NFL, NFLPA, their medical advisory committees and the Competition Committee to make changes to the game to improve player safety.

· The NFL and NFLPA, through the Duke Infection Control Outreach Networks (DICON), implemented an infectious disease prevention and response program across all 32 NFL clubs. As part of that effort, DICON has visited every club and inspected their premises and developed a comprehensive plan to educate players and team staff about infection prevention.

· Through the Accountability & Care Committee and an independent Credentialing Verification Organization, the NFL and NFLPA implemented league-wide credentialing standards for all members of team medical staffs.

· The NFL and NFLPA, through a third-party company, surveyed all NFL players in 2015 regarding their opinions on team medical care and other player health and safety issues. The survey, agreed to in the 2011 CBA, was confidential and the results will be used by the NFL and NFLPA to identify potential areas of improvement in player medical care.

· This offseason the NFL and NFLPA established the Field Surface and Performance Committee, a joint committee to provide advice and guidance regarding the safety, performance and testing of non-NFL game day and practice surfaces. The new committee will perform research and advise the parties on injury prevention, improved testing methods, and the adoption of tools and techniques to evaluate and improve field surface performance and playability.

· The NFL, in collaboration with NFLPA-appointed experts, sponsored a study to assess the performance of football helmets worn by NFL players. A poster summarizing the results of the study hangs in all 32 NFL club locker rooms.

The NFL and NFLPA jointly sponsored a study to assess the performance of football turf shoes worn by NFL players and determined that certain models presented an enhanced risk of injury. The parties created a poster summarizing the results of the study and advising players against wearing certain models of footwear which hangs in all 32 NFL club locker rooms.

· The NFL and NFLPA implemented the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant (UNC) Program and the Independent Athletic Trainer (ATC) Spotter Program to improve sideline medical care on game day. UNCs, who are independent of either club, are involved in all in-game neurological assessments. Independent ATC spotters in the press box are empowered to call a medical timeout to stop the game and have a player receive medical attention should he show signs of distress or disorientation.