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Concussions in football: Parents weigh in on the risk

6:48 PM, Nov 8, 2013   |    comments
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BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA9) -- The latest news on the risks of concussions in football has left some parents wondering if they made the right decisions to let their sons play.

The latest news that Cowboy's running back Tony Dorsett has been diagnosed with degenerative brain disease has parents worried.

"I've been taking my daughters to practice for years and all of a sudden I forget how to get there," Dorsett said.

"It's scary, especially when he gets hit hard. he's a running back," said football parent Brandi Alford.

Many counties across our region now require baseline concussion testing for athletes. 

The test offers coaches and students a way to evaluate whether players are ready to return to practice after an injury. 

"A slow return to play, they work out without the pads. then initially we'll get them into maybe half pads and then full pads and it's usually a five to seven day process," said Coach Jon Kadi.

There is no evidence that helmets reduce the risk of concussion. 

"Just from a personal standpoint it's definitely something that hits home. You want to make sure these kids go on to be valuable parts of society down the way and you don't want to see them suffer long term for something like this," Kadi said.

Experts say second impact syndrome, repeated injuries before the first ones heal, multiplies the risks of permanent damage.

Athletes and their coaches can no longer play hurt when the hurt is a concussion. 

Even Joe Camarato, personal lawyer and president of the D.C. Brain Injury Association, says parents do not need to pull their kids out of football. 

He says they just need to make themselves aware of the symptoms of concussions. Those symptoms include things like headaches, sensitivity to light, overly fatigued kids and outbursts. 

Once players are completely free of those symptoms for about 24 hours, then they can slowly start to return to play over the course of about seven days.

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