Tulane Institute Of Sports Medicine Doctor On Helping NFL Players Transition From Football

Nov 14, 2013

The NFL Players Association announced the launch this week of The Trust, a program created to assist former NFL players in the transition to life after professional football.

One major component of The Trust is the Brain and Body program, which will provide participants with medical evaluations and care. Tulane University here in New Orleans is one of The Trust’s three national medical providers.

WWNO’s Eve Troeh spoke with Dr. Gregory Stewart, the executive director of The Trust at the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine. Stewart described how the program will work, who is paying for it, and how Tulane is just one component in The Trust’s extended support system.

Interview Highlights

On the program’s start

It was the current players who had concern for their long-term health as well as the former players wanting to have access to health care. And I think that it’s not just regular health care. That for these guys it’s being able to go to a place that understands what they’ve been through and what their potential problems are, and being able to evaluate them at that level.

The range of services Tulane will be providing

This program started out as being more of a neurologic-type of program — in looking at issues in regard to concussions, dementia, long-term care — and then it kind of expanded. So really, when they come in — even before that. So, a player will contact us through The Trust — they’ll contact The Trust and be referred to us — we’ll basically do a phone interview before they even get here. So we’ll go through the process, find out what kind of problems they’re having, and what they want to get out of the evaluation.

So, we can do all the way from looking at baseline testing — they’ve been in the league for two, five, ten years; they’ve had concussions while they’ve played football, and now they just want a baseline. They’re not necessarily having any problems, and they just want to come in and get some baseline testing. So they would see neurologists, neuropsychologists to do some testing, and MRI on the brain to get some baseline testing.

But if the issues are musculoskeletal — they have bone and joint problems — we can see that. If they’re concerned about cardiac issues, we can work that up.

So, who’s paying for all this?

If they have two accredited seasons, then The Trust itself will pay for all of this. If they have insurance then obviously we would go through the insurance, but anything that would typically be considered out-of-pocket would be covered by The Trust.

Is it too much of a jump to make a comparison between how veterans are cared for and this program?

I think that it is that kind of level of care. And these are individuals who have gone and — you know, “Brain and Body” — they’ve really kind of put it on the line in order to do their job.

The medical program isn’t the only component of The Trust

There are also other partners that are looking at health and wellness, nutrition, the transition out of professional football, helping them with transitioning to a different job and other employment, helping with résumés, making a decision [about] do they need additional education… So this really is kind of a program that is looking at the individual players and trying to set them up for success in the future.