NFL helps UW Medicine launch sports-safety institute
In August UW Medicine announced plans to create a Sports Health and Safety Institute at Harborview Medical Center, to be focused on the research, education, prevention and treatment of sports-related concussions. The institute also will study how to make sports and activities safer.
The National Football League (NFL) provided foundational funding of $2.5 million. And in conjunction with a community celebration held Oct. 10 to benefit the institute, advocates and friends added more, raising the total to $9.25 million.
The institute will be led by Drs. Richard Ellenbogen, chair of UW Medicine’s Department of Neurological Surgery, and Stanley Herring, medical director of Spine, Sports and Orthopedic Health.
Athletes have long been guided by a sensibility of "no pain, no gain," Ellenbogen said.
“Our hope is that the research and findings uncovered by the institute will be used to help shape the rules, regulations and best practices as it relates to safety across all sports,” he said. "It is our responsibility to ensure the medical staff on the sidelines have the knowledge and resources in place to ensure that no potentially injured athlete returns to the field prematurely.”
Concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are the topic of a significant volume of U.S. research, yet many questions remain unanswered, said Herring. “The institute will help tremendously in uncovering ways to better engage and educate all interested parties about concussions" and to translate information into behavior change, he said.
Every year, 35 million children in the United States participate in recreational sports. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur every year, with 173,000 children seen in U.S. emergency departments annually for this potentially serious injury.
“Concussion and TBI are complex issues we are deeply concerned about and committed to preventing,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We are confident that UW Medicine will help to make this progress possible.”