CTE, TBI and American Football

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American football and concussions are a common connection nowadays, especially with the increase in science and technology over the years. With professional players dying from the disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), parents have taken precautions for their kids at early ages to prevent further involvement in the sport. Between news media reporting new studies regarding CTE and movies such as Concussion (2015), the world has suddenly become more aware of the negative effects of the popular sport.

CBIRT (Center on Brain Injury Research and Training), under the Department of Psychology at the University of Oregon, conducts research to better understand and improve the lives of adults and children with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). With football being a huge sport in Oregon and across the country, they hope that they are able to educate coaches and players on the signs and steps to take after a concussion, especially because they are so common within the sport. Their research includes school services post-TBI, ways to improve social relationships post-TBI, and systematic instruction in assistive technology to improve outcomes and quality of life for adults with TBI.

Research like this is important, especially at a university where there are football players, can be used as subjects in a study. Because of the increasing worry around football and head injuries, many parents haven’t allowed their children to play. The National Federation of State High Schools Association (NFHS), noticed that from 2016 to 2017 there was a 2-percent drop in enrollment, other factors are included in reasons why but injuries are a big factor. In the past decade, high school football participation has dropped 6.6-percent. Some high schools in the nation have dropped the sport completely from their athletics department. Jeff Reilly, a coach for the West Windsor-Plainsboro school district varsity team said, “Football is not on a good path right now and I think you have to be creative to find opportunities for kids to play.” The drop in participation doesn’t mean that national viewing of the sport has, but the drop will eventually catch up and there won’t be as much access to players as there once might have been.

Concussions in football happen all the time. Doctors, coaches and professionals are aware and want to find a way to make the sport safer. Centers like CBIRT are working on steps post-TBI, and hopefully with the proper research football can continue to be played across the country.

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