NFL to back study on link between concussion, brain damage

LONDON -- The National Football League said Saturday it will help fund new research on the suspected link between sports-related concussions and long-term brain degeneration.

The agreement with the London-based International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation will focus on retired jockeys, who suffer far greater rates of brain trauma than even football players.

The agreement came during daylong talks convened by the NFL in London involving representatives of 15 sports leagues, including the National Hockey League and World Rugby. The panel discussed a range of initiatives to identify, treat and prevent concussions.

Michael Turner, medical director of the Concussion Foundation, said the research starting in January would investigate the suspected link between concussions and the onset of an incurable brain degenerative disease called CTE, short for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which can be definitively diagnosed only after death.

"Collaboration with the NFL will significantly accelerate the research we are doing with retired jockeys and help establish if there is any independent evidence that concussion has a long-term impact on health," Turner said.

The NFL and Turner didn't specify the funding commitment involved.

In 2013 the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with thousands of former players who sued the league, complaining of various conditions involving brain damage and degeneration. Last month, researchers at Boston University and the Department of Veterans Affairs announced they had found CTE in 87 of 91 brains tested of deceased former NFL players. Symptoms of CTE include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression and depression.