BALTIMORE -- The NFL, Under Armour and GE on Sept. 4 launched Head Health Challenge II, and Army Medicine represented the Army as part of the continued effort with the NFL for Soldiers and athletes to ask for help if they've experienced a head injury. The goal of the program, guided by healthcare experts, is to improve the safety of athletes, members of the military and society overall. The Head Health Initiative is a four-year, $60 million collaboration to speed diagnosis and improve treatment for mild traumatic brain injury. Major League Baseball, Major League Lacrosse and the National Women's Soccer League are also partners in the challenge.
Since August of 2012, the partnership between the Army and NFL has led to several events, including joint meetings at the Pentagon and U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Leaders from both organizations have pushed for Soldiers and players to recognize the signs of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and seek help as early as possible for correct diagnosis and treatment. The Army has invested over $530 million to improve access to care, quality of care, research, as well as screening and surveillance for Soldiers with TBI and provides a standardized, comprehensive program delivering a continuum of integrated care from point-of-injury to return to duty or transition from active duty. And since 2009, the Army has implemented its own mild TBI(mTBI)/concussive injury management strategy of "Educate, Train, Treat, and Track."
The Army Medical Department is transforming from a healthcare delivery system to a System For Health that focuses on health promotion an injury prevention through the Performance Triad: getting the right amounts of activity and sleep, and making healthy nutrition choices. The Performance Triad is a critical first step into the System For Health and is a key enabler of the Army's Ready and Resilient Campaign. The Army continues to call for a cultural shift that emboldens Soldiers, Family members and DA Civilians to speak up when in need and encourages them to support their comrades to do the same.
BG Patrick Sargent, the Army's representative at Wednesday's event, spoke about the importance of the Army's collaboration with academia and industry relative to producing innovative research to better understand brain health and subsequent treatments. He noted that the NFL, Under Armour and GE continue to embrace the partnership with the Army in this vitally important endeavor.
Sue Siegel, CEO of GE Business Innovations, said, "GE is investing to speed up the study of head health. Through this challenge, we hope to stimulate the broader ecosystem of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators worldwide to bring their talents to this effort and accelerate the current understanding of brain trauma."
Siegel separately acknowledged that she was aware of the Army's Performance Triad initiative and that GE had implemented a wellness program modeled after the Performance Triad focus on activity, nutrition and sleep.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said: "Our organizations share common traits: pride and passion, dedication and determination, and an enduring belief in the power of team. On a personal level, there is mutual respect, appreciation and admiration between Soldiers and players. With this initiative, we are seeking to integrate the uncompromising devotion to win with a need to address traumatic brain injuries with the necessary care, consideration, and commitment to prevention that these injuries require."
Specific focus areas for Head Health Challenge II include:
I. Potential to Improve the Prevention and Identification of Brain Injuries
II. Monitoring and Identifying Injury
III. Protection against Injury or its Consequences
The winners of the challenges will be selected by a panel of external judges that include leading experts in brain research and engineering solutions for training and protocols. For Head Health Challenge II, the panelists include:
Kenneth M. Ford, PhD: Founder and CEO, Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC)
Gerard Gioia, PhD: Division Chief of Neuropsychology at Children's National Medical Center
Kevin M. Guskiewicz, PhD, ATC: Kenan Distinguished Professor, Co-Director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research and Director of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Colonel Dallas Hack, MD: Director of the Combat Casualty Research Program and the Chair, Joint Program Committee 6 (Combat Casualty Care), U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Ft. Detrick, MD
Stuart Hoffman, PhD: Scientific Program Manager for the Brain Injury Portfolio, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
David Hovda, PhD: Professor and Vice Chairman of Research Affairs for the Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Brain Injury Research Center, University of California, Los Angeles
David Meaney, PhD: Associate Director at Penn Center for Brain Injury and Repair and Solomon R. Pollack Professor and Chair, Department of Bioengineering
Joseph F. Waeckerle, MD FACEP: Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine