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Sports head injuries getting more attention

Aug. 16, 2013 @ 11:15 PM

Kerali Davis of Newcastle, Okla., remembers her surprise a few years ago when her then-8th-grade son told her he could not remember how to do math.

"And I could see he was being completely honest," she told The Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City last week. "I just couldn't believe it."

Three years ago, Brady received a concussion when he collided with another player during a kickoff return in a middle school football game. Davis soon realized she had a lot to learn about concussions, and her efforts to raise awareness and promote prevention have inspired a documentary, "The Smartest Team," that is scheduled to premiere on PBS this fall.

That recognition of the dangers of sports head injuries is long overdue, but it now seems to be gaining momentum in our region and across the country. Each year, emergency rooms in the United States treat an estimated 173,000 sports and recreation traumatic brain injuries among children and teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 55,000 of those result from football, but soccer and other sports have high rates, too.

Although symptoms may appear mild at first, injuries can lead to long-lasting impairments that affect memory, learning or behaviors. The CDC stresses that getting an appropriate diagnosis quickly is critical, and it was good to see the West Virginia Board of Education this week offering new rules to require timely reporting of head injuries and better follow-up procedures.

But more also needs to be done to educate athletes, coaches and parents about the dangers of head injuries and learn about the training and precautions that can help prevent them.

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