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By now, we have all heard about the dangers of concussions and brain injuries. We realize the importance of seeking prompt medical care following an accident in which head injuries are suspected. We have seen one competitive athlete after another struggling to deal with and ultimately succumbing to problems associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), following long careers of repeated hits to the head and often multiple concussions.
With all of the caution and warnings—not to mention increased technology in helmets and protective gear—many parents and youth sports coaches are confident that they can prevent most concussions and effectively limit the damage when one does occur. A new, small-scale study suggests, however, that the dangers may be even worse than most people realize.
Changes Without a Diagnosable Traumatic Event
Dr. Christopher Whitlow is the chief of neuroradiology and the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina. He and a team of researchers examined 25 young athletes, all males ages 8 through 13, before and after one season of competitive youth football. Each young man underwent an MRI to establish a baseline prior to the season and wore sensors on his helmet during the year to keep track of hits to the head. Following the season—during which none of the subjects suffered a diagnosable concussion or other head injury—the MRIs were repeated for comparison.
The researchers found “microstructural” changes in the white brain matter of the test subjects, and those who experienced more hits to the head showed more changes. Dr. Whitlow could not conclude for certain that the microscopic changes were necessarily harmful or permanent, but they are a cause for concern. The limited scope of the study means that large-scale conclusions based on the results would be impractical.
Proceed With Caution
An estimated 3 million young players participate in youth football programs around the country, including Pop Warner and Little Gridders leagues. If your son or daughter is among them, each time he or she steps onto the field, it is up to the coaches and league officials to ensure they stay safe. With proper instruction and practice, most traumatic injuries can be prevented, but football is a violent, often unpredictable sport and accidents do happen.
If you believe that your son or daughter suffered a concussion or other type of injury due to the negligence or recklessness of a youth sports coach, contact an experienced DuPage County personal injury attorney. We will help you evaluate your case and work with you in deciding how to proceed. Call 630-920-8855 for a free, confidential consultation today.
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