TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘youth football’

SPEAK OUT! News Bit . . . . . Football, Brain Injury & Kids

Football, Brain Injury & Kids

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

newsboy-thIs American football a dying sport? With football’s prominence in American culture, it seems safe to assume no one would predict that its days are numbered. But, there is a growing undercurrent that may eventually lead to the demise of football as we know it. There is more and more evidence that the constant subconcussive hits experienced by football players lead to a high risk of the brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). CTE can lead to early dementia, football12depression, suicidal thoughts, or problems with cognition, memory, or impulsive behavior.

Recently published by the Journal of the American Medical Association is more evidence of the enormous risk of developing CTE by playing American football. (CTE can at present only be confirmed upon studying brain tissue at autopsy, although research is being directed to finding a test that can detect CTE in the brains of living players.) A study of 202 brains of former football players was done by researchers at the VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University. They found CTE in 87% of all the brains studied. Of the 110 brains of former professional players in the NFL (National Football League, the premier professional football league in the US), 109 (99%) showed CTE. Playing only college football did not significantly reduce the risk of having CTE, which was found in 91% of the brains of former college players. Playing less football did seem to lower the risk. Only 27% of the brains of former players who played through high school, but no further, showed evidence of CTE. Also, the severity of CTE was probably less with less playing time.

brain4The results have important implications for players. Many players feel they’ve been left ignorant of the risks of brain injury by the NFL, or worse, assured by the league that there is minimal risk. [Some players have quit or retired early (1, 2). Recently, a class-action lawsuit about concussions brought by former players against the NFL was settled for $1 billion.] The NFL has argued, and most players and fans who know about CTE believe, that the brains being studied are biased toward CTE because the autopsied brains in large part are from players already suspected of having a brain injury. Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University researcher who has examined many of the brains, has stated that the results are staggering even for a biased sample (go to 1:35:58 in the video). She has stated, “It is no longer debatable whether or not there is a problem in football; there is a problem.”

Evidence of any CTE in high school football players is particularly disturbing (go to 1:29:08 in the video). Parents have taken note. Even though the NFL is actively promoting football directly to children, enrollment in youth football leagues is significantly down. Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered CTE by studying the brain of Mike Webster, the football-teamfamous Pittsburgh Steeler Center, wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times titled “Don’t Let Kids Play Football.” During my radio interview of George Visger, a former lineman for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers who had to quit the game because of a brain injury, he speculated that the preeminence of football in American society will disappear because the NFL’s talent pool will dry up. He speculates that the cost of liability insurance will be too high for youth football leagues to pay (go to 30 minutes into my interview of him).

There is no doubt that American football is exciting to watch, and there are many benefits to playing such a demanding team sport. But, difficult as it is to believe, it seems likely that the high risk of brain injury will eventually end the game.

 

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So, Whaddya Think? . . . . . . . . . My Opinion: Football Is Safer With Kevlar Helmet Inserts

So, Whaddya Think?

My Opinion: Football Is Safer With Kevlar Helmet Inserts

by

Mike Doherty

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell FigurskiSo Whaddya Think Brain th-4

As a youth football coach, I am infuriated that more isn’t being done to spread the word about a great product out there that would greatly reduce the number of concussions. I came across it two years ago. It’s cheap, and you’d think the powers-that-be would jump all over it. Nope!

Southern Methodist University (SMU) did a study when their football players used this inexpensive piece of equipment in their helmets. The concussion rate dropped impressively.

American football is really a safe sport, considering the amount of contact involved. It’s just garnering the most attention because of the National Football League (NFL), where you have much bigger, stronger, and MUCH faster athletic men trying to hit each other. It’s controlled violence.

Mike doherty

Mike Doherty – TBI Survivor

Coaches now go through a lot of training on how to teach kids the proper way of tackling and how to recognize the possibility of a concussion. Trust me, it is probably the most important issue that’s been addressed on the field in the last few years. I’m glad concussions are finally being addressed. All in all, at the youth level, football is still pretty safe as compared with other sports. High school, college, and the pros are where you see concussions pick up. (The non-helmeted sports, like soccer and girls’ lacrosse, don’t get nearly the attention they should. For the life of me, I can’t understand why helmets are not worn in girls’ lacrosse.)

What’s the flip side of removing some of these sports for youths? The kids may then get into trouble doing crazy stuff. As kids, we did crazy stuff just being boys, and I played football.

Unequal Gyro

Inside of helmet with Unequal Gyro

That equipment I mentioned above is a helmet insert from Unequal Technologies. It’s a pad lined with Kevlar, the same material used in military helmets. It inserts into each helmet and disperses the energy from an

Kevlar for Football

The Unequal Gyro

impact throughout the pad, reducing greatly the severity of the impact itself. Unequal Technologies also promotes a headband for helmetless sports.

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the contributor.)

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(Photos compliments of contributor)

 

 

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My name is Michelle Munt and this is my story about surviving a brain injury and what I continue to learn about it. This is for other survivors and their loved ones, but also to raise awareness of what can happen to those in an accident. This invisible injury too often goes undiagnosed and it can be difficult to find information about it. I will talk about things that have helped me as I continue to recover and invite others to see if it works for them too.

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