The U.S. Military Academy announced Friday that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno will visit West Point on Thursday August 30th to hold a panel discussion to "promote culture change and reduce stigma associated with mTBI/concussion injuries."
The USMA release defined mTBI as "Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries" and described the purpose of the event, "This venue provides an authentic and meaningful opportunity to discuss the Soldier-Athlete commitment to education and awareness related to these injuries".
Also indicated to be speaking at the program will be former NFL players Troy Vincent and Bart Oates. The Co-chair of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee Dr. Richard Ellenbogan, the Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington will also be presenting.
A West Point spokesperson described to me that the event will formalize what has been an ongoing, informal discussion between the NFL and the Army on helmet safety and related injury prevention and treatment. The NFL reports that meetings between Commissioner Goodell and General Odierno on sharing injury prevention and treatment experience between the Army and the NFL had started last year and continued through the summer.
The NFL is also following a US military practice since 2007 of placing "blast sensors" inside football helmets to measure the force of blows received according to a July 12th Stars and Stripes report.
The release describes that the Army and NFL plan on "working together on the issue of mTBI/concussions and promote positive culture change now and for the next generation."
Participating in the audience for the event will be members of the Corps of Cadets and U.S. Army soldiers.
The Army and the NFL certainly have reason to work together on the prevention and treatment of concussion injuries. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies released a report on July 13, 2012 regarding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which it says "affects an estimated 13 to 20 percent of U.S. service members who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan".
The NFL has increasing concerns about injuries to its players and the resulting health effects after their careers.
The New York Times reported in Oct. 2010, "A 2000 study surveyed 1,090 former NFL players and found more than 60 percent had suffered at least one concussion in their careers and 26 percent had had three or more".
During the 2010 football season in a game at MetLife Stadium, West Point was witness to the paralysing spinal injury suffered by Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, when he attempted to tackle Army's Malcolm Brown on a kickoff return.
Ken Kraetzer covers Army football for WVOX, Sons of the American Legion Radio and American Legion Press. Follow on Twitter @SAL50nyRadio
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