NFL Enlists GE, Under Armour in $60 Million Brain-Injury Study

The National Football League, General Electric Co. and Under Armour Inc. will join in a four-year, $60 million effort to develop imaging technology for detecting, treating and preventing brain injuries.

GE, which makes medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging systems along with aircraft engines and household appliances, will spend $40 million building specialized equipment for diagnosing head trauma, according to a statement distributed at a New York news conference.

The NFL, GE and Under Armor, a maker of sports apparel, also will spend $20 million to challenge researchers to develop new ideas for helmets and other safety equipment.

“We’ve always believed that innovation is a way to solve problems,” GE Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said at the news conference. “We’re going to bring the best of the best to this effort.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the partnership is the latest effort from a league that is making head-injury prevention its top priority.

“The NFL has made tremendous progress in making our game safer and more exciting,” Goodell said. “But we know we have more work to do.”

Goodell said at the Super Bowl last month that the NFL will place independent neurological consultants on the sidelines during games, require three days of postseason physicals for players and work to eliminate blows to the head and knees.

The NFL Players Association said last month it would spend $100 million working with Harvard University on a decade-long study of the long-term health of NFL players.

About 4,000 former NFL players have sued the league seeking damages for head injuries they say were sustained on the field. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease caused by repeated head hits, has been found in the autopsies of at least three former NFL players who killed themselves, including 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau.

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