With concerns about head injuries among athletes on the rise, Las Vegas will soon host a new clinic for retired professional football players who’ve suffered such trauma. Set to open within a month at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, the clinic is one of five healthcare sites in a nationwide program called The Trust started by the National Football League Players Association. The program is designed to help former players transition to life after the NFL.
“This builds on our current work with athletes and allows us to use our expertise to help these players find health in their retirement,” says Dr. Charles Bernick, associate medical director at the Lou Ruvo Center.
The Lou Ruvo Center already has a reputation as a leader in research and treatment for athletes who’ve experienced head trauma. It created a Retired Athletes Clinic, recruited more than 300 professional fighters for a longitudinal research study, and hosted a national conference on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (a neurodegenerative disease related to repeated head trauma). This month, it’s hosting The Winning Edge, an educational event for fighters.
The first program of its kind for professional football players, The Trust will also offer assistance with career transitions, education, financial literacy and personal interactions. The NFLPA is funding the program, so services will be free to members. A team of Trust Captains, former players themselves, will lead the outreach effort.
Patients of the head trauma clinic at the Lou Ruvo Center will receive comprehensive neurological evaluations that result in individualized short- and long-term treatment plans. They’ll then stay in communication with doctors and return to the clinic for necessary follow-ups. Bernick says the clinic will be for treatment only; information gathered is not intended for research.
Other healthcare sites in the program include the Cleveland Clinics in Cleveland and Weston, Florida; University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; and Tulane University in New Orleans.