Will parent’s decisions allowing children to play youth football be affected?
The recent belief that the serious brain damage found in professional football players is the result of hard blows to the head is being challenged by new research.
Researchers from Boston University examined the brains of eight teens and young adults. Four of the individuals had recent sports related closed head injuries, which were received 1 day to 4 months prior to death. The other four had no history of recent head trauma. Evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was discovered in the four teenagers that who experienced recent head injury. The study was published February 2018 in Brain, a Journal of Neurology.
“These results indicate that closed-head impact injuries, independent of concussive signs, can induce traumatic brain injury as well as early pathologies and functional sequelae associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” the researchers reported. “This may be the best evidence yet that it is the routine head impacts that occur on virtually every play and not concussions per se, that cause CTE.”
Questions come into play regarding the NFL’s methods of dealing with concussions. It may also influence the decisions parents make about allowing their children to play youth football based on the advice of physicians.
“Important research advancements have been made over the last several years around traumatic brain injury (TBI) and chronic encephalopathy (CTE), which have aided awareness and understanding around this important issue,” said Allen Sills, MD, NFL chief medical officer, past director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center. “As highlighted in the most recent study, repetitive hits to the head have been consistently implicated as a cause of CTE by this research group. How and why exactly this manifests, who is at risk, and why – these are questions that we as researchers and clinicians are working to answer.”
Steven Hicks, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, Penn State Health and Milton S. Hershey Medical Center opined regarding the safety of youth football moving forward.
“As a general pediatrician, I believe we can do several things to make sports like football safe for our children: One – be open to rule changes that may make the game safer by minimizing concussive events. Two – ensure that medical personnel are on the sideline at the beginning of games, to accurately assess potential concussions and ensure that concussion guidelines are followed. Three – teach children to tackle safely and reduce full-contact scenarios in daily practice. Four – support research that improves our understanding, prevention and treatment of concussions.
“Making decisions about youth football participation will require us to balance risks and benefits,” Dr. Hicks continued. “By minimizing concussion risks on the field we can hopefully find ways to allow children to continue to benefit from participation in this team sport.”
Vititoe Law Group is a personal injury law firm committed to the safety of youth sports. If your child was injured, reach out to Vititoe Law Group for a free consultation. Call 818-851-1886 today or contact us online.