Examining Concussions in Youth/High School Football

Inside: Interview with Former Bills WR Lou Piccone

Mike Baggerman
August 10, 2018 - 3:00 am

Local football players play catch outside field at Bennett High School. August 9, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - High school football are preparing for another hard-hitting season. But with the sport comes the increased risk of a concussion.

According to a study published by the Journal of Athletic Training, football players had the highest rate of concussions per athlete. Lacrosse players were second and girls' soccer was third.

Tamea Dixon is the mother of an eight-year-old boy who plays youth football in the City of Buffalo. She said that she's worried as a mother to make sure he's safe. She said there's a lot of different causes for concussions including negligence, horsing around, and even the game itself. 

"I wouldn't continuously put him in the line of fire if (concussions) were continuously happening," she told WBEN.

Concussions are always a concern, even for former professional athletes. Lou Piccone, who played six seasons with the Bills in the 70's and 80's, said that the game did a lot for him but if he had a son, his son would need to convince him multiple times to play football.

"They would have to work hard to make sure they reduce the incidents of serious injury as much as they possibly could by being totally prepared," Piccone said. "If they were not totally prepared to play the game, I don't think I would let them at the level they started or the level they achieved."

University at Buffalo Professor Barry Willer this week unveiled the results of a concussion study among 21 former Bills and Sabres players which concluded that CTE is not as prevalent as previously thought. It showed that none of the players had early onset dementia, which comes as a result of CTE. 

"When an individual has a concussion, it should be identified and the player should not be allowed to play until they're fully recovered," Willer said. 

He said if they play while they're concussed, it will affect their recovery and, as a result, their schooling. 

"When in doubt, sit it out," Willer said. 

He said the likelihood of long-term deficits is low but the long-term benefits are high. 

"You learn how to work with a team," Willer added. "You learn how to do your role and how your role contributes to the overall purpose of winning the game or winning the championship. Those are great benefits. While playing sports, there's a much greater likelihood that someone will be there to manage the injury well. If it's an individual going on a skateboard in a skateboard park where nobody is supervising them, they're the ones I worry about far more."

Willer said the knowledge about concussions and CTE have improved drastically over the last several decades. 

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