The nation was shocked when NFL star linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide in May. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced Seau had a degenerative brain disease when he took his own life. His chronic brain damage has raised questions for many parents about the risks associated with contact sports.
The threat of head injury has become a serious topic of discussion for parents whose children want to play football, soccer or even be a cheerleader.
"It does have me concerned about the dangers of some of these sports," said Angela Attinger, a mother.
Attinger has active 11, 9 and 5-year old children. Right now, she does not think she would allow her son to play football.
"Unless it was a complete passion of his, like 'I have to play football mom,' and then I would try to support him and all that he does. But if it's not a passion, we don't have to do it," said Attinger.
"We don't want people to become so scared that we avoid the wonderful benefits of sports and exercise. We want kids to participate," said Dr. Paul Stricker, pediatric sports medicine specialist.
Stricker says it boils down to an awareness of the cumulative effect of head injuries. Players need to do a better job communicating news of their injuries.
"It used to be kids would never tell anyone about it because they want to keep playing. Hopefully, now they realize they need to tell somebody," said Stricker.
However, Stricker hopes that will change.
"I think coaches are gonna be more apt to say, 'Hey this kid is not looking right. Lets pull him out.' Or a child is gonna be more apt to tell their coach or their parent they've had a problem," said Stricker.
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