Brain Injuries and Football

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Safety questions about brain injuries and high school football

Recent media reports of brain injuries occurring in football games and practices have become all too numerous. These reports are particularly disturbing when the victim is a high school player. A panel of medical experts convened by the National Academy of Sciences reported that the concussion rate for the average high school football player is nearly twice that of a college player, and far outpaces that of other high school sports.

This report is likely to heighten safety questions about football at the high school level, where athletes of varying levels of physical maturity — some boys, some men — collide with each other. Some college football programs afford their players a level of training and care that would rival that of professional teams, who have on staff neurologists and other medical experts managing their injuries. In contrast, many high schools have only a coach to rely upon to recognize the symptoms of brain trauma and who is probably only marginally trained to deal with medical emergencies.

Head injuries in football are attracting attention

The death of a high school football player in Arizona comes at a time when head injuries in football are attracting attention at all levels of the sport.

Hopi High School senior Charles Youvella died from an injury suffered during the fourth quarter of a blowout playoff loss, serving as yet another reminder of the dangers of head trauma in youth sports.

The high school senior died of a traumatic brain injury at a hospital, the Arizona Interscholastic Association said. He was hurt in Hopi’s 60-6 loss to Arizona Lutheran in a first-round playoff game. Youvella scored Hopi’s touchdown.

The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council called for a national system to track sports-related concussions and answer questions about concussions in youth and school sports, particularly football.

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