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Brain Injury & Obesity Combine for High Stroke Risk in Youth

US News‘s “Health Day” section published a story last Friday on a new study which found even more risks of head injuries among youth, teen, college, and professional football players. Our Chicago brain injury lawyers have repeatedly blogged in the past few months on the growing body of evidence that suggests that the physical head trauma that exists as part of these games poses many more risks that originally assumed. This latest research tries to provide more tailored information, as it specifically looked at stroke injury risks in football players and the various alternative factors that may increase the risk of stroke.

The research was conducted by experts from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. The study was a small one, as it used the case study approach instead of the usual mass data analysis of most efforts in this area. The findings recently appeared in the online version of the Journal of Child Neurology. Researchers examined teen football players who had suffered a stroke. They used their examination to determine which factors related to these players might have increased their likelihood of suffering the injury. Unlike traumatic brain injuries which involve the physical contact to the head of the victim. A stroke is a sudden, internal degenerative condition that may cause significant brain damage.

The research identified a long list of factors that may increase the risk of stroke. These include an increase in hyperventilation, use of anabolic steroids, and use of highly caffeinated drinks. In addition, as previously explained, repeated head trauma (beyond coming with its own problems) can independently increase the risk of stroke. Also, obesity was strongly linked to the strokes. Researchers believe the obesity link was particularly important because obesity heightens the risk of independent stroke factors like high blood pressure (hypertension).

The study’s author noted that of particular concern was the fact that youth football can begin for some children who are only five years old. When that is the case, these players may experience repeated brain injuries over a period of decades. That head trauma quite often comes with significant long-term effects. This is the case even when no single trauma is severe enough to draw much notice from outside observers. Also troubling is the fact that the body-mass index of players continues to increase. This means that the force of the tackles in each game are increasing, which may make brain injury even worse.

Overall, our Illinois brain injury attorneys know that this research is yet another piece of evidence of which all those involved in youth football should take notice. We have already explained repeatedly how repeated traumatic brain injuries, particularly undiagnosed concussions, can have significant effects on players for the rest of their lives. This study adds yet another risk. As if there wasn’t already enough incentive, coaches, administrators, trainers, parents, and other observers must take note of these risk factors and take every reasonable step possible to keep our young players safe. No game is worth a lifetime of brain trouble, particularly when preventative steps can be taken which would eliminate much of the risk.

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