Call me a mom, because, yes, I am one!
Like you, I have concerns over what I am hearing in the news. That’s why I asked my friend and physician, Dr. Mike Hueber, to talk about concussions and brain trauma related to contact sports.
Recently, I read an article about researchers involved in examining the brains of deceased NFL players who had donated their brains to science due to suspicion of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Of the 91 players tested, 87 had signs of CTE. That is 96%!
A larger and more diverse sample of American football players’ brains (high school, college, semiprofessional or professional) were also studied. Researchers found evidence of CTE in their brain tissue as well (131 out 165 players had CTE in their brain tissue). And just last spring, the NFL paid approximately 5000 former players 765 million dollars to settle a lawsuit over health claims.
The brain takes a beating when a person is hit over and over. In football, especially if you are a lineman, you are repeatedly hit. According to new research, this repeated hitting may cause more of a problem than even concussions.
Genetics and past injuries, along with repeated blows to the head, appear to play a role in who will develop CTE. And we also know there is a connection between brain trauma and depression.
The University of Pittsburg neurological surgery department estimates that an athlete in a contact sport has as high as a 19% chance per season of experiencing a concussion. So am I being an anxious mom by questioning if my kids should play sports that allow them to be hit in the head a number of times? Furthermore, the younger the athlete, the more vulnerable the brain is to injury, leading to cognitive problems.
When should a child quit or should he or she even play contact sports at all? I realize this is a personal decision for every family, but at least it is a decision we can make by trying to stay informed.
For me, basketball is looking good!