NFL partners with U of R on concussion and pain management research


“I think we’re going to help change the world. I really do,” said U of R professor Patrick Neary.

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After a decade of concussion research, Patrick Neary began to wonder if cannabis could help treat or even prevent these traumatic brain injuries.

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Five years later, he has a chance to find out.

An exercise physiologist and professor of kinesiology at the University of Regina, Neary was offered an opportunity this summer by his doctoral student Elizabeth Thompson, who is also interested in studying the effects of cannabis on concussions. cerebral.

She sent Neary a link, alerting him to an incredible opportunity: the NFL wanted to fund research into how medical cannabis could be used to treat concussions.

Neary jumped at the chance. He prepared a funding application and a research team from across the country that he thought would be best suited for the position.

The NFL agreed to his request, recently providing US$537,000 (about CA$685,000) for a three-year research project.

Neary said the project aims to find out whether medical cannabis “would be beneficial both for protection against concussions, either to alleviate or reduce the number of concussions, and whether or not some sort of formulation could be used. for pain management and chronic pain management, and opioid reduction.

When someone sustains a concussion, nerve cells are traumatized, causing chemicals to leak into the rest of the brain, Neary explained. This alerts the immune system and creates inflammation in the brain.

But some components of cannabis, like cannabidiol, are anti-inflammatory.

“If we can use CBD to offset that amount of inflammation, then that could be potentially beneficial or neuroprotective, and so that’s what we’re going to test,” Neary said.

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Concussions are extremely common in high impact sports, Neary said. He believes that in almost every NFL game, someone leaves the field with a concussion.

But while the NFL may be funding the research, Neary said their findings could have major benefits for anyone with a concussion.

“The majority of concussions are related to recreational sports, you know, kids falling off their bikes, falling off the swing set at the playground, banging their heads on monkey bars… So how can we help them and these professional footballers? ” he said.

“I think we are going to help change the world. I really do.”

The research team is made up of experts from the U of R, the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia. It includes an exercise physiologist, pharmacologist, pharmacokinetics, clinical psychologist, pediatric neurologist, sports physician, pain specialist, and several doctoral students, including Thompson.

Parts of the research will take place at each of the institutions involved.

The project has three phases, the first being dedicated to determining the optimal formulation and amount of CBD athletes doing resistance training can take daily to treat inflammation.

The second phase, which will take place during the football season, will see some players from participating universities take the new optimal formulation and compare it to a placebo group to study its impacts.

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“We want to see if the CBD formulation we’ve developed will actually reduce the incidence of concussion or reduce the severity of concussion,” Neary said.

The third phase will examine the use of a combination of CBD, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and nutritional supplements to reduce prescription painkillers, particularly opioids.

Health companies My Next Health Inc. and Nector Health Sciences are donating up to US$400,000 worth of CBD and medical cannabis for the project.

Neary is currently seeking approval for his project from Health Canada, which is required to conduct research on medical cannabis. Once the necessary certification is in place, he expects the project to begin in May or June.

  1. Rylan Kleiter is a placekicker/receiver with the University of Regina Rams and captain of the school's men's curling team.

    Rylan Kleiter tackles football and curling at U of R

  2. Mark McConkey was introduced Thursday as full-time head coach of the University of Regina Rams after carrying the label on an interim basis for two years.

    Mark McConkey named full-time U of R Rams head coach

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