Could Concussions Put An End To Football As We Know It?

CHICAGO (CBS) – If you’re a Bears fan, you’ve heard Jay Cutler is being sidelined because of a concussion. But the issue of concussions is much bigger than any one team. It raises the question: could concussions put an end to football as we know it? CBS 2’s Bill Kurtis reports.

We’re talking about a blow to the head where the brain inside the skull slams against it, causing swelling. Up to now, we’ve considered it just a part of the football game. Someone rings your bell, you get up and play through it.

But all the fuss that’s changing the game these days comes from researchers like those at Purdue University, who point out that a typical high school player will receive an average of 800 blows to the head in a football season.

And even if a player doesn’t show symptoms, they could still be suffering from brain impairment.

“When you get hit in the head, clearly some level of force is transferred into the brain that’s going to put some mechanical stress on the neural tissue, and that always has some risk for actually causing local strain or damage,” said Functional Neuroimaging Specialist Tom Talavage.

Temporary loss of cognitive abilities is one thing; the longer term problem that may show up later in life is the more serious concern.

“The fear in young athletes, in athletes much younger than NFL players, is the fear of second impact syndrome,” said Dr. Cherise Russo of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “That’s when an athlete returns to play too soon before the first concussion has resolved. Then you risk brain swelling and brain stem herniation.”

Then, there are the tragic cases where a tackle, a block or just falling to the ground results in permanent damage. Suddenly, the consequences of the phrase “hitting hard” takes on a different meaning.

“I was laying on top of my child begging God to keep him alive,” said the father of a high school football player.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see a different future for football.

Chicago Sun-Times’ Rick Telander’s son is in his 20s and in college now, but he says, “if he were a little boy coming up, would I stop him from playing football? No. Would I want him to play football? Absolutely not.”

Dr. Russo doesn’t go so far as to predict the end of football. She says we’ll all be smarter if we simply learn to protect the head and neck better.

  • A citizen

    Dr. Russo is obviously one of those kids who got picked last for dodgeball. Nobody like do-gooders…if it were up to them, we’d all be sitting in a corner rotating on our thumbs.

  • shane013a

    “Could Concussions Put An End To Football As We Know It?” Why because it’s putting an end to football players as we know them??? Come on gladiatorial sports have been required in most “civilized” countries forever….they’re supposed to beat each other to death…what do ya want to replace it with WAR??? Oh wait that’s the second biggest draw next to sports on TV….never mind just keep beating and killing. As long as it shrinks the gene pool I’m all for it.

  • Bobbi70

    The solutionn is simple. Put an extra player in the same whose job is merely to protect the QB. OR, when the QB is t”ouched” he is considered down and the play is ruled dead.

  • Bobbi70

    Sorry, about the typos. Again, the solution is simple. Put an extra player in the game whose job is merely to protect the QB. OR, when the QB is “touched” by an opposing player, he is considered down and the play is ruled dead.

  • Rally for Russo

    Hello, a citizen. Clearly you are a sufferer of the ‘second impact syndrome’. You should probably just shut it down and donate your body to science. Sounds like Dr. Russo will have her work cut out.

  • Tom Hennessy

    It is pretty simple. When one is concussed there is a ‘blood spill’ just like what happens when you get a ‘bruise’. This bruise slowly disappears ober a period of time BUT if this IRON which has been spilled FROM these destroyed red blood cells / bruise is not REMOVED it causes ‘punch drunkeness’ .. know FACT. So unless a guy cannot understand simple stuff like the above he therefore should UNDERSTAND the ONLY way to remove this iron is by substances which they are trying to BAN as we speak. The government / FDA is attempting to shut down ANY and every chelation / metal removal distributor in the US.
    “FDA Cracks Down On Chelation Therapy Drugs”

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