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Sports Induced Concussions Take A Terrible Toll

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Much has been written and discussed of late concerning the high incidences of concussions among today’s athletes, particularly those who play the game of football. Anyone who has ever put on a football jersey and taken to the field knows that the potential for concussions is part of the game. It has become a topic of wide-spread circumspection which has triggered the search for ways to reduce this serious problem. Panels have met to discuss possible changes in the construction of football helmets to the way the game of football itself is played. It has been a particular worry for young players whose bodies are more susceptible to the trauma caused by hard hits.
The recent death of football great, David Duerson, is directing more attention to the study of sports induced concussions. Duerson took his own life on February 18 and left text messages to family members regarding his belief that many of his problems of depression and diminished capacity in areas of vision, cognitive recognition and speech were a result of the concussions that received during his years with the National Football League. He requested that his brain be medically examined to determine the extent of damage and the likely cause. Although it is recorded that Duerson was deeply in debt prior to his death it is also known that he was suffering from intense depression and a loss of mental function. He suspected that he had developed a condition common among those who have had multiple concussions called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative disease which can show up many years after the contact that initiates the disorder and which football players are at high risk of developing.
It is estimated that a football player who has a fairly lengthy career in the sport may sustain as many as 1,000 hard hits during that time. Each hit has the potential of distributing 20 G’s of force, which is equivalent to the damage that may be sustained in an automobile crash.
The NFL has recently contributed one million dollars to the CTE Center in Boston, Mass., to aid in further study of this debilitating disease.