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Brain injuries can affect contact-sport players young and old

Football is a favorite sport of many people in Louisiana and across the nation. In addition to rooting on their favorite teams, many people play football recreationally, often starting off as a child in "pee-wee" football. However, as issues regarding long-term brain injuries suffered by football players arise, parents may wonder if it is safe to let their child play football.

A specific brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy has made news headlines as of late, particularly with regards to football and other contact-sports. It is a degenerative brain disease that may be caused when a person suffers multiple concussions. In fact, some research claims that even children who sustain a concussion playing football can experience long-term problems, such as violent behavior, issues remembering things and a depressed mood.

The research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy shows mixed results. One study reports that 32 percent of respondents who played contact sports developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy. A study out of Boston University examined the brains of 111 deceased National Football League players, and concluded that all of the players studied, except for one, had signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. However, another study of 3,000 individuals found that football players did not perform differently in brain cognition tests than the others.

Although chronic traumatic encephalopathy researchers do not always reach the same conclusions, the fact of the matter is that children or adults playing football can suffer brain injuries in the form of concussions, and at least some of these concussions can cause long-term health issues. While player safety should be made a priority, many times coaches or leagues will have a concussed player rejoin the game, despite their brain injury. This could cause a worsened condition that could affect all other aspects of a person's life.

Those who experience a traumatic brain injury can experience more than just physical pain. Their injury may have led to staggering medical expenses, lost wages from missing work (if the player is an adult) and pain and suffering. If a coach or league was breached their duty of care with regards to player safety, concussed players may want to determine if this constituted negligence.

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