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Hard Knocks Looking at Sports Concussions: May 30, 2012

Every day young athletes take the field in high impact sports. Now research is fielding more data on the impact hard hits are having on their future health.

“Because of the more recent lawsuits and other more widely publicized suicides and other events, the public has become much more aware of what’s going on here,” says Dr. Dean Lin, a neurosurgeon with Lee Memorial Health System.

The CDC estimates as many as 3.8 million athletes suffer a concussion each year in the U.S. and one if five high school football players experience a similar hard knock. The danger lies in cumulative damage.

“Those are the situations where you could lead to the chronic traumatic and encephalopathy, where years and years of cumulative damage lead down the road to changes that cause the emotional problems, the depression,” says Dr. Lin.

Only time heals a concussion, but there is wide debate over how long someone should sit out following a head hit. In young athletes, the highest risk involves second impact syndrome.

“Their brain is not as mature say as what we would consider an average NFL football player, their brains would react really differently to a head injury. A second head injury coming in very close proximity could be severe with devastating consequences,” says Dr. Lin.

As in most sports, the best defense is a good offense.

“The player needs to understand that if you’re having any sort of problems, head aches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty with concentration, any sort of blurry vision, you need to let somebody know,” says Dr. Lin.

Because kids may not be as head strong as they think.