Miami Project to Cure Paralysis Receives NFL Research Grant

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis is among 15 organizations that will share more than $1.5 million in grants awarded by NFL Charities September 11 for sports-related medical research, mostly in the area of concussion prevention and treatment.

W. Dalton Dietrich, Ph.D., the Miami Project’s Scientific Director and professor of neurological surgery, neurology, and cell biology and anatomy, and colleagues Helen Bramlett, Ph.D., associate professor of neurological surgery, and Coleen Atkins, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurological surgery, received the grant from the National Football League’s charitable foundation to further investigate the effects of mild hyperthermia – an increase in temperature – on the brain after mild traumatic brain injury. The researchers have previously reported that a mild increase in brain temperature either before or after a mild injury increases the severity of the injury to a moderate injury.

“These results indicate that small variations in brain temperature may have a critical role in the long-term consequences of single or repetitive concussions,” said Dietrich, who is also Kinetic Concepts Distinguished Chair in Neurosurgery and Senior Associate Dean for Discovery Science. “Importantly, these experimental findings may have a high impact in terms of athletes and military personnel sustaining mild concussions in environments with elevated temperatures or when levels of physical exertion increase core temperatures.”

The NFL has supported sports-related medical research for decades through NFL Charities Medical Research Grants and since 2000 has awarded grants to non-profit medical facilities nationwide for sports-related medical research, including studies on brain injury, ACL injury prevention and heat stress risks. Three separate NFL Charities Medical Grant review committees evaluated the 2011 grant proposals based on each committee’s area of expertise. Recommendations were submitted to the NFL Charities Board of Directors for approval.

“We are proud to support sports-related medical research through NFL Charities Medical Research Grants,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “These research projects have implications far beyond football, and we are committed to playing a role in helping make sports safer.”

Other grants were awarded for studies on stem cells and nervous system injuries; MRI methods after concussions; the implications of helmet, facemask and shoulder pad designs on airway and cardiovascular care; and a sleep apnea program focused on NFL players.

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