NFL, GE to study brain injuries as concussion worries mount

March 11 Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:59pm EDT

March 11 (Reuters) - The National Football League and General Electric Co are teaming up to improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries amid growing concerns about sports-related concussions in youth and professional sports.

On Monday they announced a $60 million effort with leading neurologists to speed up research into brain injuries and the development of new technologies to help protect the brain from traumatic injury.

The initiative includes a $40 million research program and an additional $20 million program that aims to develop new tools for tracking head impacts in real time.

The NFL and GE, the largest U.S. conglomerate, are backing the effort. Also joining the tool development program is the sporting brand Under Armour.

The initiative comes nearly two months after the Institute of Medicine launched a sweeping study of sports-related concussions, particularly those in young people from elementary school through early adulthood.

Americans are increasingly worried about brain injuries suffered by children and adolescents playing sports.

A 2010 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that U.S. emergency rooms yearly treat 173,000 temporary brain injuries, including concussions, related to sports or recreation among people less than 19 years old.

In professional sports, the NFL last year adopted stricter rules to determine when players can return to the playing field after suffering a concussion.

The new rules followed a lawsuit by some 2,000 former NFL players against the league, alleging it concealed the risk of brain injury from players while marketing the game's hard hits.