NRL pledges initial $250,000 for landmark concussion study

 CONCUSSION CRISIS

The Sydney Morning Herald

Adam Pengally

Updated Janruary 20, 2020 

The NRL hopes a landmark funding pledge will help convince hundreds – if not thousands – of former professional rugby league players to partake in a study to

help understand the impact of brain injuries sustained in the sport.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg on Wednesday announced an initial $250,000 injection from League Central for the Retired Professional Rugby League Players

Brain Health Study.

It has partnered with the University of Newcastle and the Spaulding Research Institute at Harvard Medical School for one of the largest studies into head

injuries in a collision sport.

The Sydney Brain Bank will also play a key role in the University of Newcastle's principal researcher Dr Andrew Gardner has been working with about 100 former NRL players for over a year, but hopes the NRL's commitment will increase numbers exponentially after formally announcing the

commitment will increase numbers exponentially after formally announcing the program.

"We must always evolve and learn," Greenberg said. "This research will transform global understanding of these issues.

It adds to the work the NRL is doing global understanding of these issues. It adds to the work the NRL is doing operationally to ensure the game evolves as we learn more about this area of

medical science.

"Already we have introduced the Injury Surveillance Bunker and Sideline Injuryo Surveillance technology which utilises the latest in Hawk Eye technology to

identify potential head injuries that will continue to evolve."

The study has been endorsed by the Rugby League Players Association and Men of League Foundation, which is encouraging former players to have their

neurological changes tracked throughout life.

The NRL community was stunned when researchers found two former professional players had been diagnosed with the degenerative brain condition

chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) during autopsy.

With the blessing his family, the Herald revealed Canterbury legend Steve Folkes as the first rugby league player to show symptoms of the disease.

Three legal firms signalled their intention to explore class actions against the NRL over the code's handling of concussion, but Greenberg confirmed on Wednesday

The study will help players and the NRL understand the impact of brain injuries sustained in rugby league. 

The game had not budgeted money to cover potentially expensive court cases.


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