The concussion study group based at Colby College announced Monday it will receive a $475,000 grant from the National Football League.

The grant will allow for a significant expansion of the Maine Concussion Management Initiative’s Head Injury Tracker, a tool used by high school athletic trainers in Maine since 2014 to record and track concussions, said Dr. Paul Berkner, the director of the MCMI.

Athletic trainers at about 40 of the roughly 150 public and private Maine high schools report concussion data to MCMI.

“Our goal is to have 150 high schools in Maine reporting,” Berkner said.

More than a third of Maine’s secondary schools do not provide athletic trainer services.

“That’s going to be the challenge. We have funding to get 150 high schools, so that will be the goal,” Berkner said. “These tools can be used by people other than athletic trainers. School nurses can use them.”

The NFL grant will allow MCMI to offer high school athletic trainers a small stipend for reporting factors that surround a concussion, such as if the injury happened during a game or practice.

“If we look at concussions overall, we really don’t know where or why they occur,” Berkner said. “In order to reduce the number, we need to know where they’re happening and how they’re happening.”

The stipend is intended to be both incentive and recognition for health providers.

“It’s not so much paying them to collect data,” Berkner said. “Rather it’s to support them and value their contributions to concussion safety.”

MCMI has focused on concussions in young athletes for more than 10 years, collecting large data sets of information that have been used in multiple studies and published papers.

The grant for Colby’s MCMI program was disbursed from a $1.5 million grant received by Grant Iverson of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Harvard Medical Center. Iverson and Berkner have been co-authors on 11 academic papers that have utilized data gathered by MCMI.

Iverson’s group was one of five organizations to share in $35 million in NFL funds awarded in November for medical research into brain health and injuries.

The funds will be distributed over a four-year period. Colby/MCMI researchers expect to contribute to 16 studies over the duration of the grant.

“This funding is incredibly important for our research programs and the investigators involved in them,” Iverson said in a press release. “It brings new resources to several of our ongoing projects.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig

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