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Concussions: Long-Term Effects They Have On Athletes

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We are hearing more and more about concussions and not just during sporting events. The long-term effects concussions can have on an athlete has become a hot topic in the media today.

Mike Webster, Junior Seau, and Ryan Freel are just a few names that come to mind when you think of the long-term effects a concussion can have on an athlete.

Professionals said this a problem that is becoming more and more common.

"We have learned over time the more important we realize it's the most vital organ in your body and it needs to be treated as such," said Merrill Hoge, former Pittsburgh Steelers player. "We have failed to do that. We are now trying to do the right things to implement it."

Chronic Encephalopathy is an issue that has shown up in the media a lot lately.

Very little is known about what may be causing the dramatic abnormalities in the brains of retired athletes.

"Head trauma can happen anywhere. The key is when it does, what do you do about it? That's where we have failed," Hoge said.

Long-term effects reported by retired athletes include brain damage, memory loss, and problems paying attention.

CTE has even caused some athletes to commit suicide.

"There are some very detrimental effects for some of those folks that maybe didn't get the attention they felt they should have got at the time," said Mike Casselman, HealthWorks. "Those are some of things we are trying to avoid."

The average high school athlete doesn't come close to suffering the number of concussions seen by professionals.

"What has happened is we have kind of let the game erode and allowed these things to happen. Really what they've done is cleaned it up. It's no longer allowed and it will be a penalty," Hoge said.

There is also "no magic number" of concussions that can determine when an athlete should give up playing contact sports.

"The records are kept in their files and then they would follow the protocol if there would be repeated concussions. Whatever is necessary," said Frank Moore, Marion County Athletic Director.

For past stories on concussions and their effects, click on the link.