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Did your child suffer a head injury while playing football?

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It's that time of year again. As football training season turns into game season for kids across the state, parents start to think about injuries. You've made sure that your child has all the recommended protective gear, but you may wonder if it is enough.

In a sport where the stakes can be as high as the chances of injury, it can be difficult to know when to let kids enjoy what they love and when to protect them.

Not all injuries are obvious

As a parent, you know that there are certain risks that come with playing a sport like football. Of course, you hope that the padding and training are enough to keep your child from injury.

Are the attempts to prevent injuries working? There is no shortage of stories of kids leaving games and practices with concussions, even with the advancements in helmet technology.

An accumulation of injuries from years of games and practices can changes your child's brain for life. Over the last several years, there have been significant advancements both in the scans done on the human brain and the understanding of what those scans reveal.

The research is beginning to show that children involved in high-contact sports are vulnerable to significant trauma. This type of trauma that may not be fully evident until much later. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study last year on the impact of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) on the brains of deceased football players. The high rate of CTE in professional players is alarming, but somewhat expected. More shocking is the 21 percent of high school players and 91 percent of college players who showed signs of CTE.

Unintended consequences

Some research has shown that people who have suffered head injuries like these can have long-term consequences. Years later, people have reported symptoms such as decreased motor control, decline in visual working memory and other changes in brain functions.

Injuries both on and off the field can be dangerous. While college and professional players can understand the importance of the risks involved in playing, minors count on the adults around them (parents and coaches) to help them evaluate the risks that come with contact sports.

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