The NFL has named Dr. Nicholas Theodore Chairman of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee, a board of independent and NFL-affiliated physicians and scientists, including advisors for the NFLPA. The committee brings together some of the foremost experts in brain and spinal trauma to advise the league on neuroscience, concussion and other health and safety issues.
Dr. Theodore is the Donlin M. Long Professor of Neurosurgery, Orthopaedics and Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Director of the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgical Spine Center. His research focuses on trauma, brain and spinal cord injuries, minimally invasive surgery and robotics. He has also served as the team neurosurgeon for the Arizona Cardinals and as a consultant to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Coyotes.
"At the NFL, we are grateful for the medical and scientific experts who shape our health and safety initiatives, and I look forward to working with Dr. Theodore in his new leadership position," said Dr. Allen Sills, NFL Chief Medical Officer. "His clinical expertise—in addition to his extensive experience in injury prevention—will further advance our commitment to player health and safety."
"Dr. Theodore will be a dynamic leader of the Head, Neck and Spine Committee at a time when significant progress is being made in injury surveillance, athlete care and scientific research," said Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President of Health and Safety Initiatives. "He will build on the substantial work of the previous leaders and further advance the health and safety of our sport."
Under Dr. Theodore's leadership, he and other experts who volunteer their time on the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee will continue to advise the NFL on medical policies, procedures and protocols, in addition to identifying and recommending medical research that impacts the health and safety of NFL players. The committee also analyzes injury data and proposes interventions, creates and supervises focused research groups with specific goals, and aims to improve public education and advocacy for enhanced sports safety.
The NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee developed the NFL Game Day Concussion Diagnosis and Management Protocol in 2011, which is reviewed each year to ensure players are receiving care that reflects the most up-to-date medical consensus on the identification, diagnosis and treatment of concussions. In March, the Concussion Protocol was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM), which marked the first sports league protocol of its kind to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Until June 2016, Dr. Theodore was the Volker K. H. Sonntag Endowed Chair and Chief of the Spine Section in the Division of Neurological Surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, where he worked on the development of Barrow Brainbook, a statewide concussion education program in Arizona.
Dr. Theodore graduated from Cornell University and attended medical school at Georgetown University, where he graduated with honors. After completing his internship at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Dr. Theodore served as a Senior General Medical Officer with the United States Marine Corps in Okinawa, Japan. After completing his neurosurgical residency and fellowship in spinal surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute in 2001, he served as Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at Naval Medical Center San Diego, overseeing the largest neurosurgery complement in the Navy.
Dr. Theodore is actively involved in preventative medicine within neurosurgery. He is the former Medical Director and President of the ThinkFirst Foundation, a national injury prevention and educational organization focused on brain and spinal injuries.
The NFL is committed to advancing progress in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries. As part of the NFL's ongoing health and safety efforts, in September 2016, Commissioner Goodell launched Play Smart. Play Safe. — a league-wide health and safety initiative. At the heart of the initiative is a pledge of $100 million in support for independent medical research and engineering advancements and a commitment to look at anything and everything to protect our players and make our game safer, including enhancements to medical protocols and improvements to how our game is taught and played. Learn more about the NFL's health and safety efforts at Play Smart, Play Safe.