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Junior Seau’s death needs to be a wake-up call for high school athletes

Al Messerschmidt/ NFL Photos/Getty Images

Even if you’re not a football fan, the suicide of NFL legend Junior Seau is shocking and tragic.  Here was a guy who had it all and was regarded as one of the greatest of all time.  As soon as I heard it was suicide the first thing that came to my mind was that another athlete’s life was destroyed because of post-concussion syndrome.

I don’t have a son who plays high school football but I have many friends who do and I worry greatly about their future.  Many have already had several concussions and probably many more have had concussions and played through it because they didn’t want to tell their coach.

While coaches at the high school level are becoming more aware of the serious nature of multiple concussions, it’s still a problem when kids are being pushed to “win at all costs.”

Athletes who suffer a concussion and return before being cleared by a physician have a greater risk for Second-Impact Syndrome, a rare but catastrophic brain injury in which an athlete who has suffered a concussion incurs further brain trauma before symptoms associated with the initial concussion have cleared. About 50% of athletes die after suffering SIS and the rest suffer life-long impairments.

Parents, coaches and the players themselves must not only recognize the signs of a concussion but take the necessary steps in treating the concussion, even if that means taking the star player out of the most important game. Athletic programs in many of our schools are so competitive that coaches and the athletes themselves are willing to take serious health risks for the sake of the game. This attitude must stop and parents need to play a big part in changing this.

The Centers for Disease Control offers free downloadable information for coaches, parents and athletes on preventing, recognizing and responding to a concussion.

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