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CDC calls for action on sports-related brain injuries

Brain injuries can result in serious complications for years to come, whether they were the result of a car accident, sports injury or another mishap. However, while traumatic brain injury deaths from car accidents have dropped a full 40 percent since 1980, health officials say brain injuries suffered by people under 19 during sports and recreational activities increased by 60 percent between 2001 and 2009.

The data comes from a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which calls on health officials in the United States to tighten rules and regulations. They say safety and health initiatives were succesful at lowering the number of car accident-related brain injuries and they hope a similar push could help make sports and recreation safer for young people.

While deaths resulting from brain trauma among 15 to 19-year-olds were reduced by 50 percent from 1999 to 2010, the overall number of emergency room visits for head injuries suffered by teenage athletes has soared, the CDC reported. The CDC said it is now working with several sports organizations, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Football League, in effort to educate coaches, trainers and athletes on treating and avoiding head injuries.

The NFL has been in the headlines in recent years over the thousands of brain injury-related lawsuits that have been filed by former players. The players allege in the personal injury lawsuits that the NFL knew concussions could lead to serious brain damage yet failed to protect or warn the players, who say they now suffer from debilitating brain injuries.

One of the lawsuits was filed in San Diego by the family of deceased NFL star Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year. The lawsuit contends that the former linebacker suffered brain damage during his 20 seasons with the NFL, which drove him to commit suicide.

Source: Star Tribune, "Surge in teen brain trauma brings call for action," Colleen Stoxen, July 11, 2013

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