Kids should not be allowed to play contact sports, warns concussion expert
With NFL pre-season games underway, concerns over concussions — and their long-term effects on players — is more serious than ever according to irrefutable proof detailed in a study last month.
It reveals after examining brains of 111 deceased football players, all but one showed signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or "CTE." The degenerative brain disease, caused by repeated head hit, is marked by memory loss, depression, and even suicide.
It might sound shocking, but it's not a new revelation for Dr. Bennet Omalu, author of Truth Doesn't Have a Side. If his name sounds familiar, you may have seen him portrayed by Will Smith in the Hollywood movie version of his story, Concussion.
There is no justifiable reason whatsoever why a child under the age of 18 should continue to play these games.- Dr. Bennet Omalu
The Nigerian-American forensic pathologist and neuropathologist discovered the condition and coined the term CTE back in 2002. He warns CTE is only one condition of a very broad spectrum of diseases following blows to the head.
He adds that a child has about two to four times increased risk of committing suicide or suffering from a major psychiatric illness, including major depression, by playing dangerous contact sports.
"Knowing what we know today, there is no justifiable reason whatsoever why a child under the age of 18 should continue to play these games. These games are potentially dangerous and should be left for only adults."
If you love your son and daughter, why would you intentionally expose him or her to the risk of permanent brain damage.- Dr. Bennet Omalu
Over 15 years ago, Dr. Omalu faced harsh criticism when he warned the public— and the NHL — of the evidence he discovered pointing to the risks of brain damage associated with playing contact sports. But he's determined to continue to speak "the truth of the facts of science" and believes it's a moral duty for physicians to speak out.
"We have always known dating back centuries that in whatever human activity whereby the head is exposed to repeated blows, there is a very, very high chance of brain damage — if not 100 per cent risk of brain damage."
It's unlikely the NFL will address this problem, according to Dr. Omalu, but he advises parents to take a stand, saying, "the NFL is not there to protect your child for you."
"It is your duty as a parent to ask yourself that question: Do I love hockey more than I love my child? Do I love football more than I love my child?" Dr. Omalu implores.
"Every parent loves his or her son and daughter, so if you love your son and daughter, why would you intentionally expose him or her to the risk of permanent brain damage?"
Listen to the full segment near the top of this web post.
This segment was produced by The Current's Sarah Evans, Samira Mohyeddin and Howard Goldenthal.