Harvard University is using an iPhone app based on Apple’s ResearchKit platform to study the long-term impact of injuries to former National Football League players. Over 3,000 former players are involved in the research program, which is being funded by the NFL Players Association. The league itself is not participating in the study.
Called TeamStudy, the app is primarily used by the ex-players, who spend about 20 minutes per week tracking memory, mobility, and pain tolerance, according to CNET. The general public is also encouraged to participate, however, as a baseline of comparison.
The NFL has long been involved in controversy over concussions and other head injuries to current and former players. The league has paid out a $1 billion settlement for concealing the risks to players. While the league has long downplayed the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a league representative did admit a connection recently in front of a U.S. congressional committee.
ResearchKit is an API provided by Apple to allow conducting of medical studies, making use of Apple’s iPhone and Apple Watch devices. Participants of ResearchKit-fueled studies can either enter data themselves, or ResearchKit can monitor sensor data or test reflexes. Studies so far have included subjects such as autism, postpartum depression, sleep, and many more.