November 13, 2014

The NFL has announced seven winners of its second Head Health Challenge.

Each will receive $500,000 for its project, and five could receive up to an additional $1 million in 2015 based on their progress. The winners were selected from nearly 500 proposals that were submitted between September 2013 and February 2014 from 19 countries.

The program is sponsored by the NFL, GE and Under Armour and is part of a four-year, $40 million initiative to help develop diagnoses and treatments of mild traumatic brain injury.

''Each of these seven winners will help advance the science toward our shared goal of making sports safer,'' NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. ''New materials, equipment designs and technology breakthroughs will better protect athletes, no matter what sport they play.''

The program winners are:

- Army Research Laboratory, Baltimore. The ARL created rate-dependent tethers that provide resistance during high-speed events. The proposal called for the materials to be connected from the head to torso, allowing for voluntary movement during sports while minimizing sudden accelerations caused by high-speed collisions.

- Emory University. Researchers and engineers at Emory and Georgia Tech developed a prototype medical device that can screen for and assess concussions in real time. The device includes a headset and hand-held device to assess symptoms, cognitive function, balance and eye movements.

- UCLA. UCLA and Architected Materials, Inc. are developing a new energy-absorbing helmet liner that would absorb significantly more energy than current designs. The proposal plans to use a new 3D printing platform to develop real-time responsive helmet technology.

- University of Miami. Its Miller School of Medicine, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is developing goggles to measure precise eye movements and assist in identifying mild traumatic brain injury in real time and more accurate concussion diagnosis.

- University of Washington. Through its commercial partner, VICIS, Inc., the school is developing a new impact-absorbing helmet with a structure and materials to better protect against head injuries. The group developing the helmet includes engineers, neurosurgeons and public health experts.

- Viconic, Inc., Detroit. Viconic is researching development of an under-layer for synthetic turf fields to make them safer. The goal is to provide the synthetic turf industry a tool to maximize safety and minimize cost.

- University of New Hampshire. Researcher Erik Swartz is leading a study to evaluate the effectiveness of a helmetless training system for tackling. The study will examine whether implementation of this technique results in player behavior change and reduces injury risk when shoulder pads and helmets are used.

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AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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