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Is Football Too Risky for Children?

With more news of brain injuries in young football players, many parents are grappling with the decision to let their children play, because of the fear of them suffering a football injury.

On the heels of the release of the film, “Concussion,” which tells the story of the NFL’s attempts to silence the doctor who discovered the first case of brain damage in an NFL player, NBC News reported that a former college football player who had died of congenital heart defect at the age of 25 was found to have the worst case of brain trauma in someone so young.

The former college player who sustained many hits to the head during his career was found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CET), a traumatic brain disorder that can only be diagnosed after death. This was the same type of brain trauma diagnosed in deceased former NFL players, including Junior Seau and Frank Gifford. His case was published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Fox News reported that the deceased college player began his football career at the age of six and continued playing for 16 years. He suffered his first concussion at only 8 years of age, and then suffered nine more concussions throughout his years on the field. After a bad concussion left him with ongoing headaches, anxiety and other medical problems during his freshman year of college, he made the decision to stop playing at the beginning of his junior year.

The film “Concussion,” which is highlighting the dangers of traumatic brain injury in football, is a story of the career of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who was the first to diagnose the disease now known as CTE in the brain of deceased Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Mike Webster in 2002. Dr. Omalu concluded from his findings that football is not safe for children and in an editorial in the New York Times said that no one should play the game before the brain is fully developed, between the ages of 18 to 25. He went on to say that repeated blows to the head, such as those sustained in football could put players at risk of permanent brain damage.

A Frontline investigation that appeared in an article on the WVIA website reported that high school football players are nearly twice as likely to sustain a concussion than college players. The information came from a study done by the Institute of Medicine. An article in this week’s Allentown Morning Call reported that according to a recent poll conducted by the Morning Call and Muhlenberg College, more parents in the Lehigh Valley are saying no to sports such as high school football, because of the danger of concussions and other health risks. According to the poll, of the 15% of respondents who said they prevented a child from playing a sport out of concern for his or her physical safety, 62% said that sport was football.

Although there is a danger of head injuries in other sports as well, such as soccer and hockey, football is by far the dangerous sport when it comes to concussions. An NFL funded report in conjunction with the National Academy of Sciences found that college football players suffer concussions at a rate of 6.3 per 10,000 “athletic exposures,” such as a practice or game, while high school football players suffer 11.2 per “athletic exposure.”

There is constant study on how to make the game safer, such as safer tackling techniques, better helmets and increased education on recognizing and proper protocol for concussions and other head injuries. This includes educating the coaching staff, trainers, players and parents. As a parent, allowing your child to play a contact sport and at what age to start is a personal decision that only you can make.

If you are a loved one have received a traumatic brain injury or other football injury or sports injury that is due to the negligence of a person or organization or a faulty product, call the injury lawyers at Fellerman & Ciarimboli today. Call our Philadelphia injury lawyers at 215-575-9237 or our Wilkes-injury lawyers at 570-714-HURT.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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