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Group Awards Nearly $2 Million for Sports Concussion Research

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) decided to award more than $845,000 in new grants to fund sports-related concussion and head-injury research during its winter board meeting this past weekend.

The organization also approved $1 million of continuing second-year grants to concussion research recommended by its Scientific Advisory Committee.

"Investment in research provides the foundation of our mission to protect athletes," said Mike Oliver, NOCSAE's executive director, in a statement. "With these grants and our continued commitment, we are driving the science of sports medicine so athletes of all ages can know their equipment is certified to standards based on the best available information."

Last year, NOCSAE awarded nearly $610,000 in grants for sports-related concussion research. NOCSAE is a nonprofit trade association that formed in 1969 in response to the need of safety standards for football helmets.

The organization also created a new Scientific Advisory Committee last year, led by Dr. Robert Cantu, NOCSAE vice president and one of the co-directors of the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Suffice it to say, concussions will be one of the main priorities of the Scientific Advisory Committee as long as Cantu's at the helm.

"Concussions remain a source of heavy discussion in the sports world and among our members," said Cantu in a statement before the start of this year's board meeting. "These injuries are complex events both biomechanically and physiologically, and scientists are working hard to understand these issues so that improvements can be made in protection, prevention, and treatment. Our goal is to incorporate scientific findings into our standards to better protect against concussions."

If the stakes weren't high enough for NOCSAE in its ongoing concussion research, remember that two bills were introduced last year in Congress that would give football-helmet makers nine months to bolster their safety standards before the government intervened.

Currently, NOCSAE tests helmets against forces that could split a player's skull, but not against the lower-impact forces typically associated with concussions.

In fact, some U.S. senators took equipment makers to task at a subcommittee hearing last year for potentially misleading claims about their helmets' protectiveness against concussions.

With Capitol Hill watching closely, it's no surprise NOCSAE continues to underwrite research on sports-related concussions.

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