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Concussions case NFL settles with former players for $765 million

According to the Associated Press, the National Football League (NFL), in a landmark decision, has reached a settlement with former NFL players and their families. According to court documents, the NFL has agree to pay $765 million to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation, medical research for retired NFL players and their families, and litigation expenses for concussions case.

The National Football League apparently has gotten the message, but what about the more than 1,100,000 teens playing high school football? What does this mean for these players and their schools? It’s time to get serious about concussions.

What causes concussions?

Concussions are caused by blows to the head, a common occurrence for many football players. Although the helmet generally protects the skull from possible skull fractures, if a player gets hit too hard or in just the right way, the brain may continues to move inside the skull. It’s this movement, the sudden acceleration and deceleration, which can be more dangerous than the actual hit.

Players who suffer from a concussion may experience a variety of dangerous symptoms such as confusion, nausea, headache and loss of consciousness. These symptoms are not as serious, however, as some of the long-term effects of bleeding or permanent nerve damage. Other players who have multiple concussions over their career may suffer from a more devastating disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Concussions can also cause death, although this is much more uncommon. According to the Annual Survey of Football Injury Research, in 2012, there were only two deaths related directly to football.

What has the NFL and high schools done to reduce the problem?

Changes have been made at both the NFL and high school levels to reduce the potential for injury for the 900 to 1,500 blows to the head a professional football player may receive in a single season. For instance, the NFL has implemented strict sideline concussion rules and cognitive tests, which are performed by doctors and trainers. The NFL has also decided the decisions made by the professional medical staffers cannot be overruled by the coaches.

High schools have also implemented new policies about what should happen after a player’s helmet comes off. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations Football rules, "No player or nonplayer shall initiate contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off."

Schools have also begun implementing specific programs to train coaches, parents and players on specific tackling mechanics. The goal of these programs is to help improve helmet and shoulder pad fittings, reduce helmet contact and publicize concussion symptoms.

More information about the long-term risks of concussions is also being given to coaches, parents and players. In some states many parents have also taken matters into their own hands going as far as hiring their personal trainers to work with their kids to make sure they understand how to hit properly. What is the goal for all of these new strategies? Hopefully, reduce the number of concussions and the long-term effects of injury.
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