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Football Brain Injury Expert Omalu Calls Youth Football Child Abuse

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The man who first identified the football brain injury, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), in former players, has blasted the sport with what is his most captious statement to date.

Forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, San Joaquin County's chief medical examiner, whose revelations of the degenerative brain disease helped gain a better understanding of sports-related injuries, said letting children play football, is a form of child abuse.

Omalu, whose memoir "Truth Doesn't Have a Side," published on Aug. 6, said that no one under 18 should play football.

"Someday there will be a district attorney who will prosecute for child abuse, and it will succeed," Omalu said. "It is the definition of child abuse."

In an interview with ESPN, Omalu, whose life was encapsulated in the movie 'Concussion' starring Will Smith, pled for parents to restrain their children from playing football and risking the child's health.

"There has been so much fascination with CTE that we are going the wrong way," Dr. Omalu told ESPN. "CTE is just one disease in a spectrum of many diseases caused by brain trauma. If he doesn't have CTE it doesn't mean he doesn't have brain damage. I've always said that every child has a 100 percent risk of exposure to brain damage. And I've always said that at a professional level, 100 percent would have brain damage of some kind at some degree. That is whether or not their brains are found to have CTE."

Instead of trying to initiate reform within the NFL, this message signals a change in reasoning where Omalu has aimed the responsibility beyond the governing body of the NFL to parents themselves.

"If you think the NFL is not doing anything," Omalu said. "Well, what do you expect? They are in the business of making money. The issue is the parents."

"I wouldn't let my children engage in an activity that has a very strong probability of undermining their intellectual development," he said. "Why would I do that to my child?"

Who is Legally Responsible for Football Brain Injury?

Another penumbra passed over interscholastic football last month when Fortuna High School player Bailey Foley suffered seizures after allegedly taking multiple hits on the playing field on Aug 25. He was in a drug-induced coma following brain surgery until Sept. 3rd. He was still unresponsive due to swelling on the brain and a bout with pneumonia. A GoFundMe campaign has raised over $34,000 to help the family with astronomical medical bills.

A severe football brain injury such as the one suffered by Bailey Foley can lead to a lifetime of debilitation and dependency on others. Medical bills, rehabilitation, special equipment and relearning basic skills will cost a fortune. Can any of this money be recovered?

In many cases, the football brain injury may have resulted from negligence on the part of the school or other sanctioning body, a coach on either team, defective equipment or an improperly maintained, facility or field. There are rules in place that prevent a player with a possible head injury from returning to the game. If a coach violates that rule or encourages dangerous tactics such as spearheading or clotheslining, that coach as well as the school can be held legally responsible for any injuries.

If you have a son or daughter who was injured playing or practicing youth sports, it is imperative that you seek the best medical attention and hire a sports injury attorney. Schools and youth sports organizations often require parents to sign waivers protecting themselves in case of any injuries. These waivers do not give them the right to be negligent. That is one reason why an experienced sports injury attorney should be retained immediately.

If your child was injured in youth sports, contact Vititoe Law Group and speak with a qualified attorney. There is no charge for an initial consultation. Call 818-851-1886

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