Press Releases

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) sent a letter to National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell urging the organization to join the Cleveland Clinic’s Professional Fighters Brain Health Study, which focuses on early identification of brain health decline and prediction of long-term consequences, seeking to understand the risk factors for serious brain injury. In the letter, Senator McCain urges the NFL to join with major boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) organizations that are investing critical financial support in the Cleveland Clinic’s research in an effort to combat the serious effects of concussions and head trauma for today’s athletes.

“[W]hat makes the Cleveland Clinic’s work unique is the study’s focus on current athlete’s health and safety, and how this science can be harnessed to prevent injury,” writes Senator McCain. “The focus on tracking athletes’ brain health over time, including during the course of their athletic careers, is important to identify ways to potentially avoid brain injury today. I hope that cooperation across leagues, organizations, and sports can accelerate the benefits that research from the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study is already yielding.”

Earlier this week, Senator McCain joined Dr. Charles Bernick, associate medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, for a press conference with boxing and MMA legends and major combat sports organizations to support the Cleveland Clinic’s cutting-edge research into fighter brain health and safety.

The letter is below and here.

April 28, 2016

Mr. Roger Goodell

Commissioner

National Football League

280 Park Avenue, 17th Floor

New York, NY 10017

Dear Commissioner Goodell,

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of joining medical professionals, boxing and mixed martial arts legends, and major combat sports organizations to support the ongoing work at Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The Cleveland Clinic is now in the fifth year of its Professional Fighters Brain Health Study, which focuses on early identification of brain health decline and prediction of long-term consequences, seeking to understand the risk factors for serious brain injury. These organizations’ continued financial support for this valuable research demonstrates a recognition that brain health research can make these sports safer, improving the long-term outlook for its great athletes and the sports themselves.

Because the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study has application beyond the ring, I write to urge the National Football League to join these efforts, considering how this research can complement NFL-supported efforts already underway.

While post-mortem research into the effects of repeated head trauma can improve our understanding of the science behind these risks, what makes the Cleveland Clinic’s work unique is the study’s focus on current athlete’s health and safety, and how this science can be harnessed to prevent injury. The focus on tracking athletes’ brain health over time, including during the course of their athletic careers, is important to identify ways to potentially avoid brain injury today. I hope that cooperation across leagues, organizations, and sports can accelerate the benefits that research from the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study is already yielding.

Sincerely,

John McCain

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