Senators Push For Accountability From Equipment Manufacturers

concussionAs the concern about sports-related concussions continues to rise, new helmets, mouth guards and other protective equipment flood the market claiming to reduce the risk of brain injury.

Unfortunately, most lack the research to support their claims – yet continue to advertise as such.

Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. joined U.S. Senators Tom Udall, Amy Klobuchar, Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Representative Tom Rooney to propose a piece of legislation protecting young athletes from sports-related concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.

The group sponsors the Youth Sports Concussion Act to establish safety standards that protective sports equipment must meet. The bill also includes measures to curb false advertising claims made by those manufacturers to increase sales.

This category currently receives little oversight from government agencies.

Back in 2012 the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning to nearly twenty equipment manufacturers that their concussion prevention claims might be deceptive, but the warnings were not enough to deter manufacturers.

The Youth Sports Concussions Act would empower the Federal Trade Commission, along with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to level civil penalties against companies that falsely advertise their safety effectiveness.

A similar version of this legislation was approved by a Senate committee in 2014, but the bill never received a vote in the full chamber.

Senator Udall believes that the increased awareness about concussions, paired with the new findings about the degenerative brain disease CTE in football players, could help this bill gain more serious consideration in Congress this time around.

“Our youngest athletes – our future sports heroes – deserve truthful and accurate information to make informed decisions so that the sports they play today can be sports they play for a lifetime.” – Senator Blumenthal

 

New Concussion Movie Shines A Light On CTE

Concussion Poster
Concussion premiers Christmas Day

The Demosphere Blog is no stranger to the topic of concussions – especially as they relate to the world of youth sports and safety concerns.

Just this past May, we spoke of head injuries in youth football and touched on a disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy has since sparked headlines again as a major motion picture surrounding the topic prepares to hit theaters Christmas Day.

What Is CTE?

CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease most commonly found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma (concussions).

It is known to cause memory loss, impaired judgment, impulse control issues, aggression, depression, and progressive dementia.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University, new research has now identified CTE in the brain tissue of 131 out of 165 individuals who played football (either professionally, semi-professionally, or in college/high school) before their death.

From this experiment, 40 percent of CTE-positive brains belonged to offensive and defensive linemen who experience repetitive contact.

At an alarming majority, 87 out of 91 former NFL players tested positive for CTE.

CTE And Youth Sports

The NFL isn’t the only group affected by this degenerative disease. A new Mayo Clinic report suggests that even men who played amateur contact sports throughout their youth may be at risk for chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

The research analyzed a total of 66 brains from men who had participated in contact sports – football, rugby, wrestling, boxing and basketball – while in school. They were compared to a group of 198 brains, including 66 female brains, from individuals who had never participated in contact sports.

One third of the men who played amateur contact sports tested positive for CTE. There were no detection of the disease in any of the brains who never played sports.

CTE In The Media

The controversy surrounding the NFL and its attempt to deny the connection between football and CTE research was showcased on a national platform weeks ago as the trailer for the upcoming Hollywood film, Concussion, went viral.

The film, starring Will Smith, tells the story of forensic pathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu. After discovering CTE in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Websiter, Omalu faced the difficult challenge of fighting against the National Football League as they tried to suppress his research.

The film intends to draw attention to the disease and it’s relationship to repetitive brain trauma.

 

What will this mean for the future of football?

How do you think football and youth football will be affected after CTE is highlighted on the big screen? Let us know in the comments section below.

This Thanksgiving, Think Of The Future Of Youth Football

Youth Football Players
Image courtesy NOLA.com

Much has been said on our blog and otherwise about the concussion epidemic in sports and its impact on youth sports – most notably football. Given all the recent news of long term brain injuries amongst former NFL players, football is often times singled out as the most dangerous sports.

At the youth level, kids get concussions from many sports – football, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, etc., but football is singled out – fairly or unfairly.

A recent column in the Newark Star-Ledger presents a number of discussion points on the issue:

  • 9.5% decline in Pop Warner Football registrants over past 2 years.
  • Increased emphasis on proper concussion awareness/training.
  • Increased emphasis on proper tackling to minimize head contact.
  • Knowledge on concussions in its infancy.
  • Risk of participation in unsanctioned leagues with less emphasis on safety.
  • Flag football not appealing for everyone.

Overall, the piece is very thought-provoking, not just for youth football but youth sports in general.

Does the recent emphasis on concussions in the news impact what sport(s) your child plays? Let us know in the comments below.