Teaming up with the NFLPA for Player Safety
Ross Zafonte, MD
It's no surprise that professional football players and other athletes face health risks more serious than scrapes and bruises. As a result of severe injuries, players can suffer from head trauma, joint and skeletal injuries, heart problems, psychological stress and other illnesses.
In an effort to improve the well-being of NFL players, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and Harvard Medical School are teaming up to gain insight about injuries from contact sports and how to prevent them. The NFLPA has granted HMS a $100 million grant to create a 10-year initiative called the Harvard Integrated Program to Protect and Improve the Health of NFLPA Members.
BWH's Ross Zafonte, DO, chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Lee Nadler, MD, senior vice president of Experimental Medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, will lead the program as co-directors. The initiative will harness the medical and research expertise of HMS and its affiliated hospitals, including BWH, to discover new approaches to diagnosing, treating and preventing injuries in active and retired players.
"Our partnership with the NFLPA will contribute to transforming our understanding of the effects of physical demands, emotional stress and repetitive trauma on disease," said Zafonte. "We are excited about the contributions this extraordinary partnership will make to NFL players, the community and the knowledge base of medicine."
Added HMS Dean Jeffrey Flier, MD: "This partnership between the NFLPA, Harvard's schools and its prestigious hospitals represents an extraordinary opportunity to improve the health of NFL players and benefit generations to come."
This story was adapted from a January 2013 Harvard Gazette article.