Some parents are thinking twice about encouraging their children to go for the gridiron, as a recent report show football has the highest concussion rate for high school sports.
The NFL fund a report released in late 2013 which found that not only does football have the highest rate of concussions in high school sports, but also that high school players are twice as likely to suffer brain injuries as are college players.
“Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture” is the 300-page report, which rates football at the top of the list with 11.2 concussions per 10,000 “athletic exposures.” Lacrosse is second, with 6.9 (boys) and 5.2 (girls).
The report said there were 250,000 concussions reported to emergency rooms in 2009 for people under age 19. In 2001, there were 150,000.
But a 16-year-old junior at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, who has suffered multiple concussions, is one of the large number of players who maintain that the risks are overblown
Justin Paniagua has suffered three concussions in his football career. He said he, along with three other teammates, received a concussion during the 2013 football season. However, Paniagua said he never thinks twice about the potential risks in the future from concussions.
“There is always a chance of long-term effects happening to me, but the chances are slim and not much worse than other sports,” he said. “I believe the health risks are outweighed by the benefits — socially, mentally and physically.”
Still, schools are cognizant of the potential risks, and many take precautions. At Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, players are given baseline brain scans before the start of the season. Increasingly, schools around the country require the same, and medical services such as Clearedtoplay.org are promoting such tests.
According to researchers at Boston University, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head. CTE results in a progressive decline of memory and cognition, and may include effects such as depression, suicidal behavior, poor impulse control, aggressiveness, Parkinsonism, and, eventually dementia, according to those researchers.