Football and CTE in Children

The Law Office of David Dwork

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), is a serious condition that is frequently diagnosed in people who have a pattern of one or more knocks to the head ( concussions). It is both progressive and degenerative. In other words, it gets worse with time.

A post mortem study of 91 former NFL players revealed a diagnosis of CTE in 87 of the specimens examined. The Will Smith film, Concussion, tells the story of Bennett Omalu, the neuropathologist who discovered the disease in the brain of Mike Webster, a center for the Pittsburgh Steelers who suffered numerous football related concussions during his career.

Children and young adults who play high school football are also susceptible to repeated head trauma and concussions. The condition is more severe in this age group because:

  • The insulating layer of myelin that surrounds nerve cells is less well developed in children.
  • Compared to body size, childrens’ heads are larger and their necks are weaker than in adults.
  • The force (G-force) of a high school football player taking a hit to the head is 18-22; for young children, the figure is 15.

What to Tell the Children

The best thing to do when taking a blow to the head during a sports activity is to stop playing and see a doctor. Pride and peer pressure will often prevent a child or adolescent from taking this sensible precaution. Nobody wants to be seen to “wimp out” in front of their friends. Schools and parents need to work together to drive a shift in culture in which the so-called brave and tough kids are seen as foolish, while those who take time out are considered cool and smart.

Seeking Help if Your Child Suffers CTE

With 30 years as a traumatic brain injury lawyer I’ve helped dozens of individuals with CTE and other brain injuries obtain the compensation they deserve. I have frequently lectured on the legal issues surrounding traumatic brain injury and have authored numerous articles on traumatic brain injury. Feel free to contact me for an appointment or consultation if your child has suffered injuries / CTE by playing football or any other sports, activity or accident.

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