Editor’s note: Lasting Impact, an eBook from NESN.com, explores the controversy surrounding concussions and CTE. Each chapter examines a different part of issue, including youth-specific concerns, what’s behind CTE, the NFL’s involvement in the concussion crisis, how youth sports have responded and what the future of sports could hold. Today: Chapters 1 and 2.
Lasting Impact starts by looking at the growing knowledge about concussions and other head trauma, including how research is showing that young players — not just much-publicized professional athletes — could be in danger from the routine head hits that are a regular part of football and other sports. While definitive links between concussions and long-term damage are still hard to make, much of the research that has emerged shows young athletes and the hits they’re taking are of particular concern. With smaller bodies, longer recovery times and a sports community that is still learning how to respond to injuries, young players have as much to worry about as some of the pros who are now second-guessing their career choices.
The first two chapters of Lasting Impact look inside the world of concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, to examine concerns for young players, including recent research that shows even everyday head hits — far below the severity of concussions — might be affecting young people long past their high school playing days. Even as the debate surrounding CTE and concussions continues to cause confusion and yield few firm answers, a few facts are emerging that give reason to pause — but that also can guide those aiming to keep athletes safe.
With insight from several leading concussion experts, including Dr. Robert Cantu and Dr. Robert Stern of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, the opening chapters lay out the scope of head injuries and what they can mean to the youngest of players, including the hope that a few right steps can keep the action going for all.
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