Breaking News
March 24, 2018 - Men have greater hospital readmission risk following firearm injury, study shows
March 24, 2018 - Pediatric psychologist shares 11 warning signs of childhood depression
March 24, 2018 - OncoBreak: ‘I Was Normal Once’; Ending Cervical Cancer; Mammo Controversy
March 24, 2018 - Gum Disease by the Numbers
March 24, 2018 - Studies show tool can identify individual needs, supports to help youths with autism, intellectual disabilities
March 24, 2018 - Study reveals cause of extreme nausea in pregnancy
March 24, 2018 - New findings highlight need to reconsider cervical cancer screening guidelines
March 24, 2018 - Smartwatch App Might Help Detect A-Fib
March 24, 2018 - TAVR Reasonable for Low-Flow, Low-Gradient Aortic Stenosis
March 24, 2018 - Kids with severe brain injuries may develop ADHD: study
March 24, 2018 - Researchers explore ways to help older adults taper off and stop using sedatives
March 24, 2018 - Back pain being mismanaged globally
March 24, 2018 - Fingerprint test accurately and noninvasively detects heroin, cocaine users
March 24, 2018 - Leading experts to promote cardiovascular health at EuroPrevent 2018
March 24, 2018 - A Role for Rituximab in Lupus?
March 24, 2018 - New osteoarthritis genes discovered
March 24, 2018 - Maternal intake of DHA supplement linked to higher fat-free body mass in children
March 24, 2018 - Royal College of Pathologists‘ bulletin provides summary of Tissue Handling Workshop
March 24, 2018 - Maternal alcohol use early in pregnancy may be risk factor for infant abdominal malformation
March 24, 2018 - Savara Initiates Phase 2a Clinical Study of Molgradex for the Treatment of NTM Lung Infection
March 24, 2018 - Accelerated WBI Should be the Norm for Most Breast Cancers
March 24, 2018 - Experts seek to standardize treatments for childhood rheumatic diseases
March 24, 2018 - Foil-based measuring chip rapidly detects Legionella
March 24, 2018 - Bariatric surgery linked to positive outcomes in very obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes
March 24, 2018 - Are there risks from secondhand marijuana smoke? Early science says yes.
March 24, 2018 - NUST MISIS researchers produce elastic metal rods for scoliosis treatment
March 24, 2018 - New University of Bath project seeks to make injections safer
March 24, 2018 - Higher-dose RT does not improve survival but reduces recurrence risk for prostate cancer patients
March 24, 2018 - Researchers examine link between knee pain and depression in older adults
March 24, 2018 - FDA Alert: BD Vacutainer Blood Collection Tubes by Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD): Class I Recall
March 24, 2018 - Daytime Sleepiness Linked to Amyloid Accumulation Without Dementia
March 24, 2018 - Energy storehouses in the brain may be source of Alzheimer’s, targets of new therapy
March 24, 2018 - Praising people with autism shows promise for producing more exercise
March 24, 2018 - Using harmless red or infrared light to diagnose breast cancer
March 24, 2018 - Clash over abortion hobbles a health bill. Again. Here’s how.
March 23, 2018 - Virtual nature environment could be new way to recover from stress
March 23, 2018 - New study identifies key cellular mechanisms behind vascular aging in mice
March 23, 2018 - Nightmares Common Among U.S. Troops, But Seldom Reported
March 23, 2018 - Another Record Low for Tuberculosis in U.S.
March 23, 2018 - Changes in the eye connected to a decline in memory
March 23, 2018 - Radiologist creates dramatic teaching tool using power of VR
March 23, 2018 - Grilled meat could be raising the risk of hypertension finds study
March 23, 2018 - Mutations found in bassoon gene may help explain cause of rare brain disorder
March 23, 2018 - Childhood Brain Injuries May be Linked to ADHD Years Later
March 23, 2018 - Why treating addiction with medication should be carefully considered
March 23, 2018 - Researchers make key discovery about cellular pathway linked to myriad of diseases
March 23, 2018 - Researchers uncover cause of rare childhood neurodegenerative disease
March 23, 2018 - Measles infection in early childhood could contribute to later COPD
March 23, 2018 - Opioid painkiller is top prescription in 11 states
March 23, 2018 - Sienna Biopharmaceuticals Announces First Patient Dosed In Proof-of-Concept Trial of Topical By Design™ JAK Inhibitor SNA-125 for Atopic Dermatitis
March 23, 2018 - In Teen Girls, Neural Patterns May Drive Emotional Resilience
March 23, 2018 - Gene-based test for urine detects, monitors bladder cancer
March 23, 2018 - BD to introduce new digital solution for IV chemotherapy administration process at EAHP 2018
March 23, 2018 - New computational method helps to identify tumor cell mutations with greater accuracy
March 23, 2018 - Researchers identify potential obesity treatment in freezing hunger-signaling nerve
March 23, 2018 - Wales participates in the 100,000 Genomes Project
March 23, 2018 - 24-Hr Paging Cuts ED Visits for Kids with Endocrine Issues
March 23, 2018 - The brain learns completely differently than we’ve assumed since the 20th century
March 23, 2018 - Less nutritious diet mainly contributes to Type 2 diabetes among U.S.-based South Asians
March 23, 2018 - Stony Brook Medicine expert provides tips for healthy diet to decrease cancer risk
March 23, 2018 - New findings could have revolutionary impact on quality of life of older people
March 23, 2018 - Restoring enzyme may help reverse effects of vascular aging, study shows
March 23, 2018 - Protein profiling reveals new prostate cancer mechanisms
March 23, 2018 - Depression may be linked to increased risk of atrial fibrillation
March 23, 2018 - FDA Takes Aim at Flavored Tobacco
March 23, 2018 - SMART Strategy Lowers Asthma Exacerbation Risk
March 23, 2018 - Cold open water plunge provides instant pain relief
March 23, 2018 - Portable and wearable technology supports future of military medical devices
March 23, 2018 - Patients with vascular malformations have poor health-related quality of life
March 23, 2018 - Researchers develop unique technology to overcome global antibiotic resistance crisis
March 23, 2018 - New DOD grant to support testing of promising therapy for triple-negative breast cancer
March 23, 2018 - Novel vaccine technologies can help better prepare for future infectious disease threats
March 23, 2018 - OncoBreak: Colonoscopy TV; Coverage for Genomic Testing; Care for Caregivers
March 23, 2018 - For some surgeries, nerve blocks mean better outcomes, fewer opioids
March 23, 2018 - Maternal obesity and androgen excess induce sex-specific anxiety in offspring, study suggests
March 23, 2018 - The tale of Theranos and the mysterious fire alarm
March 23, 2018 - USC researchers create algorithm to optimize substance abuse intervention groups
March 23, 2018 - Impulsivity may be associated with greater weight loss during treatment in obese children
March 23, 2018 - CTI BioPharma Announces Publication of Pacritinib Phase 3 PERSIST-2 Clinical Trial in JAMA Oncology
March 23, 2018 - Senate Panel Addresses Native Americans’ Opioid Troubles
Will Football Be Safer in the Future?

Will Football Be Safer in the Future?

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

WASHINGTON — Young athletes should visit sports medicine specialists when injured, new research shows playing football could cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and the age that kids should be permitted to play tackle football remains up for debate.

That’s according to physicians who spoke at the Aspen Institute’s Future of Football summit here Thursday. Two panels featured Robert Cantu, MD, a neurosurgeon with Boston University’s CTE Center and the Concussion Legacy Foundation, and Andrew Peterson, MD, a sports medicine specialist at the University of Iowa. Other panelists included former NFL players Dominique Foxworth and Chris Borland, and physicians in the audience also addressed issues.

While panelists were charged with debating whether youth football will largely shift from a tackle to flag format in the future and any implications, the issue of brain injury including CTE came to the fore. Many researchers believe CTE is caused by the repeated minor blows to the head that occur on every football play.

“We want all contact sports to be safer,” said Cantu, who helped devise sports concussion consensus statements published last year. But since roughly 2008, “every experience we’ve had with the BU group has only fueled [concern about football].” He had previously criticized one of the consensus statements last year for his colleagues’ refusal to link contact sports and CTE, and for omitting CTE animal and case studies from their review.

At the Aspen Institute event, Cantu cited a Boston University-led study published last week, in which examination of brains from eight young athletes and animal models indicated CTE can occur solely from “subconcussive” blows.

It’s possible to make football and other contact sports safer by improving coaching techniques and education to chiefly “remove the head from the game,” Cantu said Thursday. But, he added, “I want very much for football to be played in a safer form. I think that safer form is flag.”

Cantu worries about the consequences of football in its current form going the way of boxing — a once-popular sport that now draws mostly from lower socioeconomic classes. Many educated and wealthier people are banning their children from playing football to avoid brain injury. If this trend continues, far more kids from low-income, less-educated families would proportionally suffer brain trauma “and set them up for cognitive impairment” leading to anxiety, depression and more serious health problems.

During his presentation, Cantu listed more than a dozen NFL standouts who never played organized football before high school. “There’s not a single academic study that proves” playing before the age of 14 correlates with career success, said Cantu, who pushed USA Football — the umbrella organization that sets national youth guidelines — to call for leagues to ban tackle football for kids under 14.

USA Football is examining whether to set such a standard, said director Scott Hallenbeck. But the organization is awaiting research — unlike USA Hockey and US Soccer, which recently banned checking and heading, respectively, for younger players, although there’s little hard evidence that such bans would reduce head injuries.

“We’re going to have to follow the science, period,” Hallenbeck said. He noted USA Football has already changed other rules and guidelines “at every level,” although he acknowledged it is not acting as fast as some would like.

In one exchange, Hallenbeck wondered why many critics point to the NFL as a source of football’s safety problem. Cantu replied, “They’ve got billions and they’re funding research and they are funding USA Football.” Experts have critiqued these arrangements, and a 2016 MedPage Today analysis found the league was involved in a CDC youth sports safety program whose internal evaluations and success were questioned by independent researchers.

Crystal Dixon, whose son died after being paralyzed in a youth football game, called the preseason physical exams players must undergo “a joke.” Parents should take their kids to physicians independent of their teams, she suggested, noting many practitioners who administer the group physicals “don’t know if these kids’ bodies are ready.” Her son faced a higher risk of paralysis when he began playing, for example, which was not revealed until after he was injured.

Too many physicians are not aware of the updated concussion guidelines and many cannot recognize possible symptoms, said Rebecca Rodriguez, DO, a family medicine specialist with San Diego Sports Medicine. They often then allow kids to return to play before they have healed, sometimes leading to more and worse brain injuries.

Kids should see sports medicine specialists after they suffer a suspected concussion, Rodriguez told MedPage Today. She recommended educating parents about the difference between these specialists and other pediatricians and family medicine doctors. Rodriguez also recommended standardized training for all practitioners caring for youth athletes, including pediatrics, family medicine physicians and ER doctors. “Because they’re going to come across [brain injuries],” she said.

Speaking during a second panel, Peterson noted that longitudinal studies are needed to draw conclusions regarding the subconcussive blows and CTE. But “it is a real issue,” he added, calling the animal model studies and studies of former NFL players “good data.” In addition to the Boston University work, he told MedPage Today that William Meehan, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital, has been presenting an unpublished animal-model CTE study at conferences. Both “could be really useful for informing this,” said Peterson, who led a study published last year indicating that flag football isn’t completely benign.

Gerard Gioia, PhD, a pediatric neuropsychologist with Children’s National Health System, said researchers are struggling with extrapolating findings from NFL professionals to youth players. Gioia rejected the under-14 ban, calling it “too black-or-white.” Instead he called for devising tests to determine when individual kids are developmentally prepared to play tackle football.

While the researchers debated, the two former NFL players both said they oppose youth tackle football. Foxworth, former president of the NFL Players Association, said he will not allow his son to play. Borland said that if the point of youth sports is to develop mind and body, “I don’t know why youth tackle still exists.”

Borland also questioned a 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics position statement on tackling in youth football, which argued against a ban in part because the authors concluded coaches can teach safer techniques. Said Borland: “There’s no way to do it entirely safely.”


Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles