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Money Talks – The Business of Brain Injury Research

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a serious problem in the modern medical landscape. From athletic concussions to military related battlefield injuries, doctors and scientists diligently search for new methods of diagnosis, treatment and prevention. While no one doubts the importance of this work, the recent public interest in TBIs spawned what appears to be a lucrative business field. Makers of new inventions claim to understand concussion prevention, while physicians and researchers purport to have discovered new and effective treatment methods. A recent article in the New York Times is calling attention to this trend and asks whether these new innovations are truly worth their earnings.

Awareness about concussions and TBIs greatly increased over the past decade. This is due in part to very high profile lawsuits against the National Football League (NFL), as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As concern grew, the federal government began collaborating with several medical organizations to increase public awareness and research new treatment options.

Dr. David X. Cifu, is a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who also works for the Veterans Affairs Department. He believes that this growth in government spending led to the increased research and suspicious claims. Cifu is quoted in the Times article as stating, “It was a small field that got amazingly large because a lot of people were making stuff up and claiming things.”

Military Spending

Nowhere is TBI spending more visible than in the Department of Defense budget. Battlefield injuries create a serious concern for military physicians who work to protect soldiers and also prevent long term physical and mental health challenges. According to the article, this agency spent more than $800 million over the past decade for brain injury research and studies. Parts of these funds were reportedly spent in collaboration with the NFL and General Electric. The Defense Department also funded various and injury testing alternatives. While the increased funding and effort is commendable, these studies reportedly yield minimal results.

Sports Spending

Athletics is another area where TBI spending greatly increased over the past decade. Riddell, a maker of football helmets, created sensors for placement inside of helmets. According to reports, the devices would monitor blows to the head and alert about possible concussions. The NFL reportedly used the sensors in eight games before terminating the experiment, stating that the gathered data was of little value. Nevertheless, the sensor market continues to grow. A recent seminar on sensors was reportedly attended by more than 100 entrepreneurs and corporate heads. Featured products included sensors for the helmet, ears and mouth guards. While the usefulness of these products remains an issue for debate, there is still hope that this influx of research and invention will lead to a cure for these life threatening injuries.

If you or a loved is suffering with a severe brain injury at the hands of another, contact the experienced attorneys of Levin & Perconti at (312) 332-2872 for a free consultation.

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