Professional athletes in the United States are often idolized, none more so than professional football players. Parents often spend hours on weekends watching football with their young children and many enjoy the thrill of attending games in person, as well. With the star power enjoyed by many football players in the U.S. comes a predictable interest in playing the sport among many young Americans.
In fact, it is estimated that around four million young people in the U.S. play football. Unfortunately, as data continues to emerge, researchers have learned that the potential for head injuries — including traumatic brain injuries — is high and especially dangerous for young athletes.
Researchers have suggested that 11 to 15 percent of all young football players sustain some type of head injury while playing the sport. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that over 173,000 people under 20 years of age are treated in emergency rooms due to sports-related traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. every year. The CDC’s research revealed that emergency room visits for children with TBIs caused by sports have risen 60 percent over the last 10 years.
As awareness has spread about the dangers and long-lasting consequences of sports-related brain injuries, some efforts have been made to reduce the incidents of concussions and TBIs among young football players. The NFL’s development partner, USA Football, created a guide for young players, meant to teach them a “better and safer” way to tackle. The lesson teaches young athletes to keep their head up when tackling another player, to avoid head-to-head contact.
Of course, it might be hard to expect players with little experience in the game to successfully adhere to these guidelines, particularly when the players they watch on television do not allows stick to the rules. Edgeworth Economics estimates that 266 professional football players sustained concussions during the 2011 football season.
Study finds repeated head trauma leads to brain disease
Ensuring the safety of players, both amateur and professional, should be a priority for everyone involved in the sport — including parents, coaches and football leagues. The results of a four-year study were recently published in Brain, a scientific journal, and they illuminated the long-lasting effects of repeated head trauma.
The study involved 85 people who had agreed to donate their bodies to science after their death. The subjects included:
- Professional football players
- College football players
- High school football players
- Professional boxers
- Professional hockey players
- Veterans of the armed forces, many of whom also played sports
The researchers found that 80 percent of the participants had developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy — also known as C.T.E. The disease of the brain worsens over time and includes a range of symptoms — both mild and severe — including:
- Short-term memory loss
The study furthers the idea that repeated head trauma has serious effects that can last a lifetime.
For those who have suffered a sports-related traumatic brain injury — or who have sustained a TBI in any way due to another person’s negligence — recovering damages to contribute to medical expenses and other losses is critical. Consulting with a skilled personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected.