Purdue Study Shows Rampant Brain Trauma in High School Football
Media coverage of brain trauma in the NFL has been widespread over the past few years after the tragic suicide of Junior Seau, who was found to have horrific brain damage as a result of his NFL career. This media attention has somewhat filtered down to the collegiate level.
But should researchers be focused on the bulk of football players in America, high schoolers? A recent study performed by Purdue University found that about half of high school football players show brain trauma.
About the Head Trauma Study
According to Reuters, professors from multiple departments at Purdue University collaborated with the Purdue Neurotrauma Group to conduct a study amongst high school football players. The study tested for signs of altered neurological function and were focused on pre-concussive head injuries.
The test was conducted via sensors that were placed in the athletes’ helmets that recorded the force of each impact. These measurements were then compared to cognitive tests that track neurological function. These measurements and tests were taken over the course of the trial.
The results were alarming. More than half of the players studied were found not only to have altered neurological function, but were also found to have a dramatic change to the wiring and biochemistry of their brains.
Pre-Concussive Head Injuries Rarely Diagnosed
What is even more alarming, however, is the way these types of injuries have been historically treated. Many trainers will offer little to no treatment for any player with a pre-concussive head injuries. This is understandable because players with these injuries typically don’t show symptoms normally associated with concussions (dizziness, disorientation, etc.).
This lack of medical attention most likely is the reason for the shocking neurological damage. Team doctors don’t treat these injuries, which build up at an alarming rate over the season, allowing for the damage to become permanent due to the lack of treatment.
While technology that protects the players’ heads is available, such products are not only hard to find, but very expensive to produce, purchase, and replace. School Districts and individual schools have to decide whether or not they value the protection of their students over other items on the balance sheet, such as books, salaries, and infrastructure. These questions are obviously difficult, but they must be made. In the meantime, high schoolers will continue to play and continue to get hurt.