Sports figures, organizations like the National Youth Sports League in Texas, physicians and athletes' families have grown increasingly concerned about concussions. Some current and retired athletes claim what researchers are trying to determine - brain trauma, frequently caused by auto accidents, results from repeated head blows.
Sports-related brain damage has been linked to cognitive difficulties, memory loss, permanent disabilities and death.
A massive study is underway by neuroscientists to establish a link between concussions and serious harm to athletes' brains. Doctors have confirmed that multiple head injuries deplete brain cells and cause other damage.
Cleveland Clinic researchers said that young athletes, whose brains are still developing, suffer blows that are as just as severe as those experienced by older or professional players.
The owner of the National Youth Sports League said extra safety precautions are taken for thousands of children who participate in the organization's team sports. Head injuries are carefully monitored. Helmets are mandatory throughout games.
New football players, some as young as 5, have restrictions that disallow or alter plays used by older athletes. Punts are frozen and kickoffs are forbidden to keep kids from making body contact after building up speed.
Neurosurgeons are worried that helmets may not be enough to prevent brain trauma. A head blow may not cause skull injuries for an athlete wearing a helmet, but deep damage is possible for the moving brain inside.
Coaches, leagues, schools and parents have learned to watch for signs of concussions during sports. Many parents are grappling with concerns over whether football and other contact sports are safe, no matter what safeguards are taken.
The research could introduce new information about the long-range effects of concussions and verify existing suspicions. Some athletes with brain injury symptoms may believe games with head knocks are as dangerous as auto accident trauma.
Personal injury attorneys help harmed plaintiffs pursue compensation for brain injuries due to negligence.
Source: 8newsnow.com, "Researchers Study Long-Term Effects of Head Injuries," Scott Daniels, Feb. 1, 2013