With the New Football Season, Parents Need to Watch for Serious Head Injuries

With the New Football Season, Parents Need to Watch for Serious Head Injuries

With youth tackle football starting and professional football players starting the regular season this week, people need to watch out for head injuries. If the proper steps are not taken to prevent a head injury from happening, people can be injured, and for children, injuries can be carried into adulthood. Different sports organizations have taken steps to prevent head injuries that can hurt people later in life. Heading the ball in soccer is banned at age 10 and younger, body checking is banned for players playing hockey under 13, and football players from the ages of five through 10 do not have kickoffs and full contact practices are limited.

At Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, it was found that adults who played football as children had a higher chance of growing up with emotional and cognitive challenges. In a different study of former football players, players were more likely to develop clinical depression, apathy, and executive function problems. Head slams were also observed for players who started playing before and after the age of 12 who developed CTE later in life. Kids who started before the age of 12 had cognitive deficits and behavioral and mood problems 13 years earlier than those who started at the age of 12.

Youth football has had some improvements because concussion laws have been passed throughout the country and athletes do not go back into the game when having concussion symptoms. This is not helpful for subconcussive hits though. The repeated exposure to these types of hits hurts people over time and leads to CTE and other problems later in life. This can be stopped by not allowing kids to play tackle football until the age of 14. They can instead play flag football, which is gaining popularity with participation growing 9.2 percent in 2018 for kids between the ages of six and 12.

Another way to stop the injuries from tackle football is to stop playing the sport altogether. Some parents chose this option, with only 1.2 million children playing tackle football in 2018 versus 1.7 million playing in 2008. Advancements in helmets and other equipment also need to be developed to help protect players, but this cannot help with the subconcussive hits.

If people are not going to give up football, the best ways to prevent head injuries later in life are to set an age limit for tackle football or have kids play flag football instead.

If you sustained a head injury playing football you may be entitled to file a claim. Contact our firm at 412-471-3980 or fill out our contact form to speak to an attorney and learn your options.

Robert C. Cantu and Mark Hyman, “Children, tackle football and the possible dangers of brain diseases” The Washington Post (August 19, 2019). [Link]

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