The Risk of Student Concussions

By Naomi Dillon

Everyone knows football is a rough-and-tumble sport. Indeed, its take-no-prisoners style is part of its appeal and one of the reasons the game has become a national pastime.

Still, it shocked fans when Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw revealed earlier this year that the multiple concussions he sustained during his NFL career left him with irreparable brain damage. Just months earlier, Kansas high school football star and homecoming king Nathan Stiles collapsed on the sidelines and died from second-impact syndrome, a fatal condition that -- as its name suggests -- occurs when a second concussion is sustained before the first one has completely healed.

Clearly, no athlete should take these types of risks. Fortunately, that message is finally spreading, spurring new policies and practices along the way.

“There’s always the tipping point on any issue, and we’ve reached it here on concussions,” says Gerry Gioia, who’s had no small hand in shifting the balance and bringing attention to the seriousness of this often-underestimated injury.

As chief of neuropsychology at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Gioia has treated more than his share of kids who’ve experienced the hard knocks of life.

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