NFL Drafts Dr Betsy Nabel for Chief Medical Advisor

February 10, 2015

NEW YORK, NY and BOSTON, MA — In what appears to be an attempt to make the National Football League (NFL) safer, Dr Elizabeth Nabel, the president of the Brigham and Women's Hospital, has been drafted as the league's first chief health and medical advisor[1].

Nabel, a reknowned cardiologist, is joining the NFL in an advisory capacity and will stay on as hospital president and as professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. In a statement issued by the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Nabel says her goal is to create the "safest possible environment for NFL players."

Nabel was not available for interviews but said her first priority is to "review the medical, health, and scientific priorities that the NFL currently has in place, as well as assess the medical protocols and ongoing scientific research collaborations," according to the statement.

The league is currently in the medical spotlight as awareness grows about the dangers of concussions and other injuries on the long-term health of players. Repetitive head injuries common to the sport have been linked with neurological damage and player deaths. In athletes with a history of concussions, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive, degenerative disease, is one of the gravest concerns.

CTE is associated with memory loss, confusion, aggression, impulse-control issues, and depression, among other symptoms, and eventually leads to progressive dementia, according to Boston University's CTE Center. Data from the Boston Veterans Affairs brain repository showed that 76 of 79 former players examined had evidence of CTE, according to one report.

On January 20, 2015, Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, gave a state-of-the-league address and said it would create the chief medical officer position to make the sport safer for the athletes. The NFL has also reached a tentative agreement with more than 4500 former players on a $765-million settlement as part of lawsuit alleging the league failed to protect players from concussions and their long-term effects. That offer is currently being ratified before the courts.

Nabel is the former director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health. She describes herself as a "lifelong football fan."


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