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A Massive Study of Young Athlete Brain Injuries is Happening in Texas

Some people claim that football isn’t what it used to be. Whether it’s old school fans talking about the heyday of Johnny Unitas or the loyal followers of the 1985 Chicago Bears team who can still recite every word of the Super Bowl Shuffle, some of these fans echo familiar sentiments about how the game has changed and that players today are soft.

The game has certainly changed, but not necessarily the way these people might say. Players are faster and the hits are harder. Science has also taken a central role in football, especially in the way that we understand how collisions on the field impact the brains of players.

We now know that players can suffer long-term effects after collisions to the brain. Studies show that concussions can have repercussions that last a lifetime, and even subconcussive blows can lead to health complications later in life.

We’re About to Learn Even More About Concussions

A new reporting registry is offering doctors the chance to learn much more about the impact concussions have on young athletes, and it’s based right here in North Texas. According to an article from WFAA, ConTex will track data to find out more about how concussions occur and which regions of the state might be more likely to see these injuries among young athletes. The efforts aren’t just limited to football, though that is obviously a major goal of the registry.

The study has some limitations, but people involved in the research hope that might change. While the information depends on voluntary reports from athletic trainers, the experts behind ConTex hope that reporting will become mandatory so the results can provide even more insight into concussions.

Over 800,000 young people play high school sports in Texas, and data from such a large pool of athletes is a substantial resource for doctors. The results from this study could have a huge impact on the way we identify and treat young athletes for concussions.

It’s a Much-Needed Effort

We need to know more about health effects of concussions. Around 3.5 million young people play youth football in the United States. The information about these athletes is virtually non-existent when compared to the extensive research conducted among NFL players, even though there are only about 2,000 players in the league.

What we do know is that the impact of a collision to the head poses many risks for a young, developing mind. Unfortunately, so many young athletes (an estimated 70 percent of those participating in youth football) are playing sports outside the oversight of national organizations.

If we learn more about the problems facing young athletes, that information could prompt greater concerns from parents, coaches and the medical community. Those concerns could then lead to the way to greater protections for young people playing sports.

Football has changed, but more importantly, our understanding of athletic injuries has changed. This evolution represents progress that is hard to argue against, and it is much needed as we look for more ways to protect our children from the devastating effects of a head injury.