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Leading Brain injury Researcher Tells Congress: Keep Kids Out For At Least 3 Months Following a Concussion

At today’s continued congressional hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee on concussions in sports, Dr. Bennet Omalu, co-founder of the Brain Injury Research Institute at West Virginia University recommended that football players under 18 should not return to play for at least three months following  a concussion. According to Dr. Omalu, keeping children out for at least three months would reduce the risk of irreversible brain damage.

Details of what will surely be a controversial opinion are not yet available.  However, the opinions of Dr. Omalu, a leading researcher in the area of sports concussions needs to be taken seriously. Dr. Omalu was one of the first researchers to make the connection between chronic traumatic brain encephalopathy, a condition resembling early onset Alzheimer’s  Disease and repeated concussions in professional football players. 

I've always said the risk of further injury following a concussion is so great, that parents should be extremely cautions in allowing their children to return to play following a concussion.  With all the information currently available, it seems that it is impossible to determine the full extent of brain damage in the hours, days and weeks following a concussion.  The risk of permanent damage simply doesn't warrant returning high school and college athletes to play and dooming them to become permanent victims of brain damage.

In my practice, I have seen single uncomplicated concussions result in permanent impairment.  I've seen victims of brain damage who at first seemed to be fine, only realize the full extent of their injuries when they returned to work and day to day activities weeks later.  There is nothing mild about mild traumatic brain injury.

The hearing held today was the third such hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee. The first two focused on problems in the NFL and this one was called to discuss traumatic brain injury in  high school and college sports.

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