Report Warns Helmets Don't Protect Young Athletes From Concussion

By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)

(CBS News) Brown University junior Dillon O'Carroll was recruited to play football. But in August 2012 he decided to stop after his third concussion.

"The reason I knew something was wrong was when I walked off the field, and I had sort of this white blindness and I said, 'Whoa,'" O'Carroll said. "That wasn't good, and I sat down, and again I started to feel like I wasn't myself."

Brown University junior Dillon O'Carroll decided to give up football after suffering his third concussion. A new report finds that in 2009, 250,000 athletes age 19 and younger were treated for concussions.

A report out Wednesday from the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council said that in 2009 250,000 athletes age 19 and younger were treated for concussions, up from 150,000 in 2001. Visits to the emergency room were up 57 percent.

The report describes a "culture of resistance" where athletes feel pressure not to disclose potential concussions.

"It's a very difficult decision because you've been playing football for all your life and you love everything that goes along with football," said O'Carroll. "To have it kind of taken away from you, you kind of have to understand there is more to life than football."

According to the report, the highest rate of injury for men is in football, followed by ice hockey, lacrosse, wrestling and soccer. Among the highest for women are soccer and college ice hockey.

And there is no evidence soccer headgear reduces the risk of concussion. The same is true in football.

In fact, helmet manufacturers already post warnings like this: "Contact in football may result in concussion/brain injury, which no helmet can prevent."

Dr. Neha Raukar of Brown University's School of Medicine was one of the authors of the report.

"Helmets were originally created to reduce the number of skull fractures and intercranial bleeding and oral and eye injuries. However, they don't necessarily reduce the forces that lead to concussive injuries," Raukar said.

According to the report:
*Athletes with a concussion are at risk of suffering a more severe one the next time around.
*Ten to 20 percent of patients have symptoms lasting more than two weeks
*Returning to play before full recovery increases the risk of more severe brain injury.

"The approach to the concussed patient has to be individualized," Raukar said. "Every person recovers at a different rate."

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