TORONTO, Jan. 23, 2014 /CNW/ - GE (NYSE:GE) and the National Football League (NFL) announced today 16 winners in the first round of the $20 million "Head Health Challenge". Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre neurosurgeon, Dr. Leodante da Costa, is the first international award winner and his research could become a standard way of more effectively determining the proper time to "return to play" in sports, resume work or physical activity after a mild traumatic head injury or concussion.
Challenge winners each receive $300,000 in funding to advance their research. Launched in 2013, the Challenge aims to enhance the understanding of traumatic brain injury and advance technology solutions to better diagnose and treat such conditions.
Sue Siegel, CEO of GE Ventures & healthymagination, said, "We launched the Challenge as a call to action to fast-track advancement in head health. The Challenge has shown us a remarkable number of breakthrough ideas that deserve attention, investment and further research. By advancing the work of these winners, we will better understand brain injuries suffered by athletes and members of the military and improve our knowledge of the brain overall which could help improve our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's."
Dr. da Costa's research was selected among 400 entries from 27 countries. Dr. da Costa's research focuses on ways to detect and measure the ability of the blood vessels in the brain to respond in the event of head injury. The research was highlighted as an area of interest by the Challenge's panel of leading healthcare experts and advocates in brain research and imaging technologies.
"We are most pleased to receive this funding that will help us to extend our work in improving imaging diagnosis of patients with traumatic brain injury," says Dr. da Costa.
"With mild head injuries, such as a fall on the ice while playing hockey or during a play in football, head scans often come back normal. Often the patient is walking, talking, might seem fine, and is sent back home and told to go back to work after a few days of rest."
"But we know that 15 to 30 per cent of these patients will have more persistent issues with concentration, focus, memory and mood changes that will make it difficult for them to carry on with their activities," adds da Costa.
"Currently we can't tell which ones are in trouble and which aren't; these are the patients that come back and keep receiving the same diagnosis because we currently don't have enough information to recognize them. Our goal is to be able to better identify those patients and athletes at risk of persistent symptoms and secondary injury after concussion or apparently mild day-to-day injuries that can sometimes be missed, so we can be better equipped to diagnose, monitor response to treatment and guide decision making."
GE and the NFL will also support Dr. da Costa's research through ongoing mentorship and access to GE's researchers, facilities and industry expertise. Up to five awardees from this first round will be eligible for an additional $500,000 award in 2015.
The Head Health Challenge is part of a larger four-year, $60 million collaboration between GE and the NFL to speed diagnosis and improve treatment for mild traumatic brain injury. This includes a $40 million R&D program to evaluate and develop next generation imaging technologies.
GE, the NFL and Under Armour have launched the second round of the Head Health Challenge which will explore innovations in materials that can protect the brain from traumatic injury, and new tools for tracking head impacts in real time. Entries are welcome through January 30th, 2014 for additional information, visit www.nflgebrainchallenge.com
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About Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is inventing the future of health care for the 1.2 million patients the hospital cares for each year through the dedication of its more than 10,000 staff and volunteers. An internationally recognized leader in research and education and a full affiliation with the University of Toronto distinguishes Sunnybrook as one of Canada's premier academic health sciences centres. Sunnybrook specializes in caring for high-risk pregnancies, critically-ill newborns and adults, offering specialized rehabilitation and treating and preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological and psychiatric disorders, orthopedic and arthritic conditions and traumatic injuries. The Hospital also has a unique and national leading program for the care of Canada's war veterans. For more information about how Sunnybrook is inventing the future of health care please visit us online at www.sunnybrook.ca.
SOURCE: GE Canada
For further information:
Nadia Norcia Radovini
Communications & Stakeholder Relations
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre