NFL, NCAA To Announce New Concussion Initiatives At White House Summit

CREDIT: Shutterstock
CREDIT: Shutterstock

The White House will convene more than 200 participants, including representatives from National Football League and NCAA, for a summit on youth concussions Thursday, when President Obama will announce millions of dollars of new investments into research and other projects to help address brain injuries in youth sports.

The White House will announce a $10 million investment to form a new concussion program at UCLA that will begin planning a new concussion database that could track youth concussions throughout sports. Such a database was a major recommendation in a major report released in 2013.

The Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit comes at a time when awareness about the injuries are at an all-time high. The NFL, NCAA, and National Hockey League have all faced multiple lawsuits alleging that they failed to properly address concussions among their players in the past.

Meanwhile, according to the White House, young athletes made more than 250,000 concussion-related visits to emergency rooms around the country last year. Studies have shown that young athletes suffer concussions at higher rates than their counterparts in collegiate and professional sports, and questions remain about the long-term effects of those injuries. The 2013 study that recommended a national database pointed to a lack of research focused on youth concussions as a major gap in the study of concussions.

The White House and other participants will announce other initiatives at the summit as well, according to the Associated Press.

The NFL will announce a new $25 million initiative to help put more athletic trainers on high school athletic fields. The NFL will also spend $16 million to help fund a study on the effects of repetitive concussions through the National Institutes of Health — that funding is part of a larger $30 million commitment the league made to NIH to study concussions in both athletes and soldiers.

The NCAA, meanwhile, will announce a $30 million partnership with the Pentagon to fund a comprehensive study of concussions in college athletes.

Those are among the initiatives the White House plans to announce at Thursday’s summit, which will also feature discussions about other ways to improve safety in youth sports and about how to better educate parents, coaches, and athletes about the dangers of brain injuries.

USA Cheer, the nation’s largest cheerleading organization, will unveil new standards for the prevention, identification, and treatment of concussions, and the National Federation of High School Associations will announce that it will host a summit on concussions later this year.

The White House will not announce any new regulatory or legislative efforts at the summit. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation in 2013 that seeks to improve statewide concussion standards in scholastic sports. Two members of Congress introduced a bill that would mandate baseline concussion testing for college athletes. Neither, however, has received attention in Congress. Several states have bolstered their concussion laws in recent years, improving education for coaches and management protocols for athletes who suffer brain injuries.