The National Football League is stepping up research efforts to explore rehabilitation for athletes across multiple sports who suffer concussions, and UNC-Chapel Hill will share in a grant provided to fund the latest efforts.

The grant is to focus on rehabilitation strategies in concussion management, but the focus is not just on the NFL. High school and college athletes also will be studied across several sports.

UNC and the Medical College og Wisconsin will share the grant.

Catawba College, Elon University and North Carolina Central University as well as others will participate in the study.

“Player health and safety is a high priority for the CFL,” said Kevin McDonald, the league’s vice-president, Football Operations and Player Safety, in announcing the grant. “This research on concussion management is innovative and important, and our participation is consistent with our commitment to advance player health and safety initiatives.”

The NFL’s International Professional Sports Concussion Research Think Tank is backing the new study.

According to UNC, the study is “one of the first of its kind” and that it “will examine the efficacy of two clinically supervised management strategies, including both the international concussion return-to-play protocol and early therapeutic interventions on concussions.”

More than 200 athletes, male and female, who suffer concussions will be involved in the study.

“Currently there’s little information available about the most effective strategies to manage and treat concussion,” said Johna Register-Mihalik, the co-principal investigator at UNC. Register-Mihalik is assistant professor of exercise and sport science in the College of Arts & Sciences and faculty member of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center and the Injury Prevention Research Center. “We want to see how early, clinically guided activity could benefit recovery from concussion.”

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NFL grant funds international research on the role of active rehabilitation strategies in concussion management