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Columbus, Ohio
USA

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Why injury? It's this simple: more children die from injuries every year than from the next three leading causes of death combined. Nobody knows this because no one is talking about it. In the U.S., one child dies every hour from an injury that could have been prevented. Around the world, a child dies every 30 seconds as the result of an injury. You don’t need to have a child to know that we can do better.

 

Read This: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

End Injury

The movie Concussion has returned the discussion of sports-related brain injuries to pop culture, but it’s not just the movies that are bringing this issue around again. Someone in our group also shared an article from The Washington Post about Michael Keck, the youngest football player to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

Unfortunately, at this point, CTE can only be diagnosed after the person who suffers from it dies. Yes, there are symptoms, but because many of these symptoms might be chalked up to a bad day or other emotional issues, some players may never recognize the link between their behavior and their days on the gridiron. Michael Keck, however, knew he had it—so did his wife—yet his concerns were not taken seriously. When he died of an unrelated medical condition, the autopsy proved what he already knew: that despite his young age, his brain was “brittle and deformed, pockmarked with the clumps of protein” that indicate CTE. 

This was startling news, even for those of us who pay a lot of attention to injury. This player was only 25 years old and had not played professional football. The question we must ask is,  "How can we protect the players while still allowing them to play a sport they love?"

There are, of course, no clear or easy answers. Efforts like the Heads Up tackling program have been implemented in youth football, but it’s going to take more science, more research, and more compromises to fully get a handle on this problem. Like many beloved sports, football is high-risk, high-reward, and that’s why so many of us attend high school games, root for a college team, or tune in on Sundays. Stories like Michael Keck’s, however, are a good reminder that for many players, the game doesn’t end on the field.

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