» Has Junior Football Gotten the Message About Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Has Junior Football Gotten the Message About Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Brooks Schuelke, Esq.
Schuelke Law PLLC

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) April 12, 2018 – Traumatic brain injuries are a hot topic in sports and have been for a number of years since research showed that NFL players' frequent concussions led to dementia and sometimes suicide. While the big leagues received attention, it is the middle and high school football players and their injuries that need attention.

Football and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative brain disease, have been linked together for many years. Researchers at Boston University found presence of CTE in 88 percent of over 200 former football player’s brains.

These startling statistics sparked action by the state of Maryland. In an effort to protect younger contact-sport players from TBI two bills are being introduced. A former University of Maryland football player, Madieu Williams, and Maryland legislator, Terri Hill, have teamed up to craft bills that would curtail football at the childhood level. Although laws such as this have been proposed in other states, like California, New York and Illinois, nothing has been passed.

While in the initial stages, the first bill, calls for the elimination of football before high school and bans football on publicly owned fields for middle and elementary school children. Should the bill pass, it would not affect privately owned fields. However, private teams who permit tackling during football games would be banned from using public fields. Delegate Hill says, "When we're talking about children and their brains, I think we need to do what we can to protect them.”

Williams, who played university football for three years, recounts that he sustained a concussion during his first freshman practice. Williams played safety for the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers, ending his career in 2012.

“The fact that lawmakers are getting serious about doing something to help prevent TBI and CTE is good. What isn’t so great is a coach suggesting that doing so would mean more difficulty teaching kids to tackle in high school. The question becomes what is more important,” indicated Austin traumatic brain injury attorney, Brooks Schuelke.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, participation in high school football plunged by 2.5 percent in 2017, with at least one high school disbanding a team because not enough players tried out. Brain, a neurology journal, recently published a study that found repeated subconcussive hits to young athletes heads correlated with early signs of CTE. In addition, an article in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, showed that nearly half of an estimated annual 300,000 sport-related concussions nationwide are the result of playing football.

Another study from the Boston University CTE Center found that men who played tackle football before the age of 12 are more likely to suffer from depression, apathy and other behavioral issues later in life. Furthermore, a study published in a 2016 issue of Radiology found that many players age 8 to 13 who had no concussion symptoms still showed changes in their brains associated with TBI.

Ultimately, Hill and Williams hope to have a bill that mandates public high schools retain a licensed health care provider or an individual with concussion risk management training to be present at all practices and games.

“Would it be a good idea for Texas to look into something like this?” asked Schuelke. “Most likely, but first there has to be a will to find the way to make that happen. Our children are important. They should be protected.”

Schuelke Law PLLC
3011 N. Lamar Blvd
Ste. 200
Austin, TX 78705
Call (512) 476-4944


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