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Head injuries in sports take center stage, part one

After Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy took a line drive to the skull last week, he underwent surgery to reduce swelling around the fracture. He is not the only athlete to bring brain and head injuries to the news in the last few weeks. The players of the NFL have been increasingly involved in studies showing an increased likelihood to die of Alzheimer's disease or ALS (often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease).

According to the "Los Angeles Times," players with five or more seasons of play in the NFL are four times more likely to die of these degenerative brain diseases. Head trauma, especially in the NFL, is being investigated from all angles. Medical studies on the brains of contact-sport athletes are showing more and more concerning results.

contact-sport athletes are showing more and more concerning results.

Not to mention the string of suicides by NFL players in which self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the chest were the cause of death, allowing the NFL brain bank to examine their still in-tact brains. Additionally, 3,000 former NFL players are alleging that the NFL was aware and gave no warnings to players that serious neurological problems could result from playing in the league.

There's no doubt that professional sports is a dangerous career. However, many young people are involved in sports as well, and an alarming number of concussions and brain injuries are occurring among them. For student athletes who are involved in contact sports, it is likely that the athlete and their parents are aware of some inherent risk. Next week we will post about these student athletes and their injuries while under the eyes of their coaches.

Source: LA Times, "Head injuries in sports run the gamut from tragic to reckless," Bill Dwyre, Sep. 11, 2012

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