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Sport NRL pledges initial $250,000 for landmark concussion study

04:00  27 november  2019
04:00  27 november  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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“The NRL study takes concussion research to a new level by looking at the long-term impact of repeated concussions . Dr Pearce hopes his landmark research is the first step in determining the long-term impact of impairment resulting from repeated concussions and will lead to further research

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Todd Greenberg wearing a suit and tie: Todd Greenberg says the NRL's landmark pledge to concussion research will last for decades.© AAP Todd Greenberg says the NRL's landmark pledge to concussion research will last for decades.

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 program.

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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 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 operationally to ensure the game evolves as we learn more about this area of medical science.

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

"Already we have introduced the Injury Surveillance Bunker and Sideline Injury Surveillance technology which utilises the latest in Hawk Eye technology to identify potential head injuries that will continue to evolve."

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

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