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NFL, union enhance pain management and behavior programs

May 20, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL and the players’ union have two new agreements to address player health in the areas of pain management/prescription medications, and behavior well-being.

The joint agreements, announced Monday, are designed to lead to advancement and understanding of dealing with pain and to improve potential treatments. The league and union also will add to programs already established in education, prevention, and overall behavioral health throughout the league.

Among the stipulations in the pain management area will be formation of a committee of medical experts appointed by the league and union that will establish uniform standards for club practices and policies in pain management and the use of prescription medication by players. The committee also will conduct research concerning pain management and alternative therapies.

That committee will receive periodic reports from a newly developed prescription drug monitoring program that will monitor all prescriptions issued to NFL players by club physicians and unaffiliated physicians.

Each NFL club must appoint and pay for a pain management specialist before next season.

All 32 teams now must retain by the start of training camp a behavioral health team clinician focused on supporting players’ emotional and mental health and well-being.

While the NFL and NFLPA have had previous joint programs in these health areas, the league’s medical chief, Dr. Allen Sills, notes these initiatives are a major step toward “the same goal: Take care of the whole player and do so in a holistic way, and to focus on prevention.”

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