concussions | KERA News

concussions

1 In 5 Teens Reports A Concussion Diagnosis

Sep 26, 2017

Concussions have gotten a lot of attention in recent years, especially as professional football players' brains have shown signs of degenerative brain disease linked with repeated blows to the head. Now, a new analysis confirms what many doctors fear — that concussions start showing up at a high rate in teens who are active in contact sports.

Almost five years ago, soon after the suicide of linebacker Junior Seau, the NFL announced it was donating $30 million to the National Institutes of Health for brain research.

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Concussions are one of the most complex injuries in sports medicine today. In the past few years, there’s been an explosion of research focusing on how often concussions take place, how to measure them and how to prevent them.

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Last week, the NFL admitted for the first time that football is linked to brain damage. It’s something researchers have documented for years. Now, a new study conducted at Texas Christian University shows a component of fish oil could help reduce the brain-damaging effects of head trauma.

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Although nearly four million people a year sustain concussions, there’s still a lot doctors don't know about them, including Dr. Munro Cullum.  The neuropsychologist is one of the researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center leading a study of several hundred people to eventually come up with better treatment for concussion. 

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Many often associate concussion with contact sports like football. But Dr. Benjamin Newman, a neurosurgeon with Methodist Health System, says a blow to the head in almost any activity can lead to a concussion - even kids riding those new bikes they got for Christmas.

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So far this year, 14 high school football players have died across the country -- seven after an injury on the field, another seven from indirect causes such as heat stroke and heart problems. 

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Doctors across the country will be trying out a new treatment for traumatic brain injury. UT Southwestern, the National Institutes of Health and other partners announced today that they’ll study a new drug that could help stop bleeding in the brain.

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A healed body doesn’t always mean a healed brain.

Nearly half of all reported sports concussions occur during high school football. And even when a student is ready to get back on the field, they might not be ready to return to class.

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: the UT quarterback is leaving football due to concussions; one of the new “genius” grant winners has North Texas ties; explore the history of Dallas’ Pike Park; and more. 

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The NFL reported 228 cases of diagnosed concussions in the 2013 season. Research has revealed prolonged head injuries suffered playing football have lead to dementia, cognitive decline, ALS and Parkinson's among its players. Steve Almond, writer and author of Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto, will join Krys Boyd at 1 p.m. on Think to discuss the issue from an aware fan's perspective.

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The football players at SMU will be wearing something new under their helmet this season. At the first game of the season, SMU’s Mustangs will all be wearing helmets outfitted with ballistics-grade kevlar.

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It’s state softball playoff season, and some girls are gearing up with face masks.

Softball is one of the safest high school sports in Texas. But serious injuries do happen – especially at positions like third base or pitcher, where screaming line drives can do major damage. At least one North Texas school district, Richardson, is requiring all girls who play third to wear face masks in the field.

UT Dallas

The concussion crisis has sent shock waves through the football world from the NFL all the way down to pee-wee leagues. A researcher at UT Dallas has developed a device to measure the force of hits and determine whether there’s been a brain injury.

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: 1.3 million Americans expected to lose emergency unemployment benefits tomorrow, the Rangers will introduce a new player, Texas women made an impact in country music this year, and more.

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An explosive PBS documentary recently investigated concussions in the NFL -- and it featured former Dallas Cowboys star Troy Aikman.

The Frontline program, "League of Denial," reported on a concussion that the Cowboys quarterback suffered in 1994, as well as a scary exchange that he had with his agent following the incident. Aikman experienced significant memory issues. He sat in a darkened hospital room in North Texas, unable to stare at light.

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Almost 90 percent of concussions in high school football happen from player-to-player contact. That's one reason the NFL Players Association negotiated limits on tackling during practices.

But very few high school leagues have caught up with that NFL standard.

Texas has. The state that brought you Friday Night Lights and a $60 million high school football stadium in Allen has adopted one of the strictest limits on high school contact and tackling at practices.

The NFL and more than 4,500 retired players have reached an agreement calling for the league to contribute $765 million to a fund that will pay "medical and other benefits, as well as compensation" to those who suffered concussions and related injuries during their careers.

Details of the agreement, which would settle concussion-related lawsuits by former players and still needs a judge's OK, were released by the league early Thursday afternoon.

According to that statement:

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The Pentagon estimates that one in every five veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffered at least one mild concussion.  Since 2007, the military has pumped about $700 million into research on traumatic brain injury. That research can be traced from Fallujah to Friday Night Lights.  

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The Texas House has passed a measure that would create a pilot program offering concussion insurance for parents of public high school students in football and girl’s soccer.

Democrat Eddie Lucio of Brownsville says the Texas Education Agency and the UIL, University Interscholastic League would choose participating schools and run the pilot program.

Lucio says the voluntary insurance would cost about $5 and could pay off in the long run. 

Lauren Silverman

Former Dallas Cowboy Daryl Johnston is using his fame shine a light on brain injuries in sports. He says all athletes should get a baseline assessment test before playing sports, and is working with the Center for BrainHealth in Dallas to promote awareness. 

Gena Breedlove

It isn’t only NFL superstars who get concussions. It’s high school basketball players, cheerleaders, soccer players, even softball players. More than 300,000 high school students were diagnosed with concussions last year.Still, there’s no gold standard for evaluating or treating concussions in young athletes. This weekend, a group of coaches, parents, patients and doctors are getting together at UT Arlington for a conference on concussions and youth safety.

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State law now requires high school athletes who show concussion symptoms to be pulled from competition and receive written medical clearance from a medical provider before returning. Dr. Munro Cullum has helped design concussion testing programs for teams in the NFL and NHL for more than a decade. He wishes more athletes would take the requirement seriously.