More than $1 million dollars in total will help a University of Regina-led team of researchers explore how medical cannabis products may help prevent and treat concussions.
Concerns about the prevention and treatment of concussions in sports have been growing over the last several years.
Exercise physiologist and professor in the faculty of kinesiology and health studies at the U of R, Dr. Patrick Neary has received more than $500,000 USD from the NFL, along with $400,000 of in-kind support from My Next Health Inc. to investigate the use of cannabinoids — the naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant — in the treatment of concussions and for pain management.
“As with the league’s broader approach to health and safety, we want to ensure that our players are receiving care that reflects the most up-to-date medical consensus,” Dr. Allen Sills, NFL chief medical officer, said.
“While the burden of proof is high for NFL players who want to understand the impact of any medical decision on their performance, we are grateful that we have the opportunity to fund these scientifically-sound studies on the use of cannabinoids that may lead to the discovery of data-based evidence that could impact the pain management of our players.”
Neary, who has been working in the area of concussion prevention and treatment for more than 15 years, is excited to have the NFL’s support.
“Our interdisciplinary research team believes that different cannabinoid formulations found in medical cannabis have the potential to benefit athletes suffering from the acute and long-term chronic effects of concussions,” Neary said.
“Our research will also examine whether cannabinoids can be used as an alternative to opioids and other prescription medications for pain management. Ultimately, this study has the potential to change not only the lives of current and former NFL players, but also the lives of anyone who may suffer from a concussion, whether it’s sport-related or acquired elsewhere.”
The main cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) and Neary said the research team will investigate the effects of different CBD/THC formulations, which is being provided by My Next Health Inc., for pain management in those suffering from post-concussion syndrome and chronic pain, and as a neuroprotective treatment for concussion. The Canada-wide team includes physicians, cardiologists, psychologists, pharmacologists, neuroscientists, and researchers from other fields.
“The University of Regina’s research enterprise supports governments, industry, communities and, most importantly people,” Dr. Kathleen McNutt, vice-president research with the University of Regina, said.
“Dr. Neary and his team’s research on the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of concussions and pain management has the potential to help alleviate life-altering injuries affecting millions of people each year and we very much appreciate the support of the NFL and My Next Health Inc. in these endeavours.”
Preparatory work for this research project will begin immediately and the next steps will include obtaining Health Canada approval for the clinical trials.
“We anticipate our CBD/THC formulation will show significant and positive changes to what it does to the brain – that it will reduce pain and use of prescription medications (opioids), show a reduced number of concussions during athletic competition, and provide physiological and psychological benefits,” Neary said.
This research is also designed to demonstrate the safety, efficacy, and tolerability of CBD.