Teens and football: A dangerous mix
In ''Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: Big Hits, Broken Dreams,'' CNN's chief medical correspondent explores how J.H. Rose High School in North Carolina has dealt with the growing issue of concussions
1. Concussions are frighteningly common.
Almost half of high school football players suffer concussions each season. J.H. Rose student Jaquan Waller, 16, died in 2008 after a seemingly mild hit during a game. But it came after he’d sustained an untreated concussion at practice.
2. High schools aren’t prepared for head trauma.
Most teams have staff members who can offer immediate first aid for other routine injuries. But fewer than half have someone on hand trained to recognize and treat concussions.
3. Teenagers have really fragile brains.
Adolescent athletes take longer to recover from concussions than older players because their brains are still developing. Long-term effects from repeated or improperly treated concussions include migraines, emotional problems, even dementia.
4. Little hits add up.
High school players on average receive 650 blows each season. New research suggests the cumulative effect of these hits can cause serious health issues later in life.
5. Kids are their own worst enemies.
Many high school athletes hide injuries. ”I was going to play until I couldn’t play,” former J.H. Rose team member A.J. Flores tells Gupta. After several concussions (including at least one that wasn’t connected to football), Flores now suffers from lasting aftereffects — and he’s no longer involved with the sport.