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Suicide Of Football Player Owen Thomas Linked To Brain Injury

A Boston personal injury attorney is aware of the terrible consequences of sports related brain injuries. However, parents of athletes may not be. More and more research indicates that even mild traumatic brain injuries sustained in sports can affect you. ABC News reports that traumatic brain injuries associated from playing basketball has increased 70 percent between 1997 and 2007. The article chronicles how young basketball player Niki Popyer has suffered from 11 concussions. As a result, she can barely attend a full day of school without a struggle.

Football players are not faring any better. Shortly after his suicide, CNN reports that an autopsy requested by researchers from Boston University of football player Owen Thomas indicates that he may have suffered from the mild stages of brain damage seen in retired or aging athletes. This type of brain damage can possibly cause neurobehavioral disorders and bizarre behavior.

The University of Pennsylvania football player was a popular college junior who was called "the most popular kid on our team." His suicide came as a shock to his family and friends. When researchers completed their autopsy of Owen Thomas' brain, they announced that he was the first active college football player known to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Some of the effects of CTE are poor decision-making, impaired memory, erratic behavior, use of drugs and alcohol, depression and suicide. 

While Owen Thomas' medical history indicates that he has not suffered from a concussion since the age of 9, researchers claim that his position as a lineman means that he was suffering as many as 1,000 blows to the head per season. They say that while blows to the head can be serious, a player may not even feel any pain or show symptoms of injury. Repeated blows to the head can mean long lasting brain damage.

Dr. Robert Stern, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine told CNN, "It shows us that you don't need to have had known or reported concussions to develop this brain disease. It really shows us that those multiple, repetitive sub-concussive blows to the head that are experienced by so many athletes in many different sports can bring on the beginnings of this disease." 

It is serious topic that many parents of athletes need to consider. If you have specific questions about sports related injuries, it may help to meet with a Boston personal injury attorney. For more general information, please visit our Related Resources links.

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