Football season has gone underway and there are some major concerns brewing about America' favorite sport. Recently a settlement of $765 Million over 20 years was agreed upon with retired professional football players and the NFL (National Football League); It wouldn't have happened without pressure from Congress, scorching publicity, suicides by several ex-players and a massive lawsuit charging that the league misled players about the long-term dangers of concussions. Football is not the only extreme sport that has been linked to numerous reports of concussion, professional wrestling, hockey and boxing have also made the list of being cited to potentially be a risk of brain trauma in young people. Medical professionals recommend that children under the age of 14 years should refrain from the above mentioned sports, in particularly football. At age 4 years old a child's head are 90% of an adult, but with much more weaker necks; the combination creates tremendous danger. The most common trauma to the brain during these contact sports, would be a concussion. Concussions are define as the shaking of the brain forcefully inside of the skull, hitting the skull causing injuries. Common symptoms of a concussion, will be a loss of consciousness, drowsiness, confusion, headache, nausea/vomiting, blurred vision and loss of memory of events surrounding the injury. Multiple concussions have now been linked to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gherig's Diease.
ALS is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. Another serious degenerate brain disease is called Chronic Traumatic Encephathy (CTE), this disease also is brought on by multiple hits to the heads continuously over a period of time. CTE has also been commonly associated to soldiers exposed to blast or concussive injury; in both cases resulting in accumulation of the protein.
At Emerson Hospital in Conrad, Massachusetts; Dr. Robert Cantu treats hundreds of patients a year for concussion symptoms. Dr. Cantu is the co/Director of the Study of Traumatic Encephelopathy at Boston University which examined brains of many deceased professional football players. Many of these players were found to have degenerative disease as a result of years of accumulated head trauma. CTE or DP (Dementia Pugilista) as it was formally known has been detected in college and high school football players. Unfortunately CTE appears years, decades or worst after death to be properly diagnosed. A recent survey taken in 2012 suggests that professional football players are three times more likely to have neurodgenative disease then the general population. The study was published in the medical journal of neuro surveyed. Over 3,500 retired NFL players between the years of 1959-1988 were researched and although the number is small, the findings of these diseases were substantial in half of the retired football players.
There have many changes on the professional (NFL) level as well as your child's youth or high school football teams on ensuring the proper procedures are being cared out to minimize this type of tragedy to happen. Although, there is much work to be done, please check out these helpful sites for further information on protecting your athletic child to ways to spot any symptoms that you may feel could be familiar to a loved one suffering from this silent killer.