Is Youth Football Safe?
August means many things here on the Southcoast. It means the feast is finally here. It means back to school shopping. And it means the start of Pop Warner football practice from Old Rochester to Portsmouth, RI.
I have been involved in youth football as a player, a coach, and a parent for many years. As a kid in the 80's and 90's, we never really worried about concussions. If anything, we'd brag to each other with boys' bravado if we thought we may have had one. Times have changed. Concussions are no longer laughed off. Coaches and players are trained and retrained every season to recognize the symptoms of concussions and the procedure to follow if one is suspected.
When I read the results of The Journal of the American Medical Association this week, I will admit it raised my eyebrows.
The degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been diagnosed in 110 of 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated for research...In total, CTE was diagnosed in 87% of 202 former football players --- including high school, college, NFL, Canadian Football League and semipro. The study, the largest conducted into the potential link of brain trauma in football and CTE, was led by researchers at Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System. --USA Today
I had a lot of questions, so we brought one of the leading athletic trainers at Southcoast Health. Kathy Thornton serves on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Youth Sports Concussion Advisory Council. You can see her full interview above.