Have a great idea for how to spot early stage mild traumatic brain injuries? General Electric and the NFL are looking for some help from the crowd. The organizations announced they are partnering to develop new ways to help detect brain injuries in football players and military members by launching the Head Health Initiative. The Initiative, which is part of the NFL’s greater fight to help heal and understand what exactly causes brain injuries in football players, includes a $40 million research and development program to determine the key imaging biomarkers in the brain. In a two-year open innovation program, GE and the NFL will invest up to $20 million in research and technology to better understand and diagnose mild traumatic brain injury.
Beginning today, the NFL and GE are accepting proposals for technologies that can help identify and manage subclinical and mild traumatic brain injury. And in the fall, GE and the NFL will invite proposals for materials and technologies that can protect the brain from traumatic injury and for new tools for tracking head impacts in real time. Winning proposals will not only possibly save lives–but can win up to $10 million.
The initiative is just the latest of many the league has announced in its effort to better understand brain injuries in former and current players. It comes as the NFL is facing a public relations nightmare with fans and players wondering what the longterm effects of football are following a spate of high-profile suicides by former football players. The league is also facing lawsuits by former players who claim they were lied to about the risks of the game (the NFL denies any wrongdoing).