NFL Players Association launch AI study into brain injury

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

By: Sport Industry Group

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has announced a new partnership with US medical institute the Cleveland Clinic which will see the pair use AI to better understand neurological diseases. 

The pair say the aim of the partnership is to ‘improve diagnosis, prediction of disease progression and help guide treatments’. The study will aim to benefit current and former NFL players, as well as informing medical treatment of neurological injury and disease worldwide.

Using data from players, the partnership will see the pair work to develop ‘machine learning algorithms related to cognitive impairment’, which will then enhance Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) models while using machine learning tools and sources of data, such as demographics, patient-entered data, imaging, and lab results. These data points can then be applied to disease progression modeling in a bid to understand long-term trajectories from short-term clinical data.

The NFLPA and Cleveland Clinic have also called on other partners to help create a ‘coordinated research network’ to evaluate and conduct phased research projects.

According to the pair, the use of XAI techniques and machine learning tools creates an opportunity to build models using patients who did not play the sport.

“This partnership with Cleveland Clinic is an exciting extension of our union’s ongoing commitment to advancing the physical and mental health of our player members,” said DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director, NFLPA. 

“As the physician community learns more about neurological disease through the resulting clinical decision-support tools, the better informed we will be in providing education and safety initiatives for professional football players