Tackling the Issue of Concussions in Youth Football

According to a survey conducted by Bloomberg politics, football has long overtaken baseball as America’s favorite pastime However, in recent years, controversy surrounding the NFL’s attitude towards concussions has parents wondering if their children should be engaging in such a dangerous activity. Especially since in 2013, the NFL offered $765 million in settlements to NFL players who had suffered concussions, reversing its position on the role of football in relation to CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Therefore it seems as if the NFL is now pouring money into research to protect its image.

When parents hear about the kinds of injuries associated with the sport, they wonder if it is a safe activity for their children. In fact, according to another survey, half of Americans don’t want their sons playing football at all. Since opinions are mixed on the subject, there are a few things you should consider before letting your son play:

Age

A recent study conducted by Boston University in conjunction with Brigham and Women’s hospital found that NFL players had a more poignant risk of developing brain damage if they began playing tackle football before age 12. Researchers point to a critical window of brain development between ages 10 and 12 in which children are susceptible to altered brain development

The leader of the study, Dr. Robert Stern, cautions against drawing any conclusions about the long-term effects of football playing, however. He points to a small sample size (n=40) and iterates that the study merely begs the opportunity for more rigorous, wide scale research.

Risk of Other Sports

Football seems to get the bulk of the attention when it comes to head injuries, but statistics show that there is also a risk of concussion associated with several other sports. According to a story in the New York Times, many activities are comparable to football when it comes to sustaining a head injury. A study led by the National Research Council and the National Institute of Medicine reports that concussion rates are also high in lacrosse, soccer, wrestling, and ice hockey.

Steve P. Broglio, head researcher at the Neurotrauma Research Lab at the University of Michigan, advises not to read too heavily into the numbers, noting that overall, sports have “cognitive, physical, emotional, and social benefits that outweigh everything.”

Policy Changes

In response to the research involving concussions, the National Federation of State High Schools Association has implemented several rule changes to assure the safety of players. For example, the definition of “unnecessary roughness” has been expanded to include any contact with a defenseless player. “Targeting” now includes any contact to an opponent above the shoulders, hopefully minimizing helmet to helmet contact. Scientists are also working to create helmets that can prevent concussions through the use of impact technology. When they become mainstream, risk of concussion may be significantly reduced.

Even though policy makers and researchers are working to make football safer, it is uncertain how effective these changes will be. Therefore, if your child has been injured while playing sports and you feel you may be entitled to compensation, contact the personal injury lawyers at Sweeney Merrigan Law. We offer free consultations and can let you know if we think you have a case worth pursuing.

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