Adrian Peterson's Son's Death Shouldn't Be Just Another Brain Injury Statistic

PHOTO: Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson makes his way off an NFL football practice field at Winter Park, Oct. 11, 2013

Many sports fans know the staggering statistics of the 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson:

• Peterson narrowly missed breaking Eric Dickerson's single season rushing record by 108 yards
• Peterson had the most yards rushing in a single with 296
• Peterson set the NCAA freshman rushing record with 1,925 yards at the University of Oklahoma
• Peterson has the most rushing yards in any eight-game period, the most 60-plus-yard TD runs in a career, the most 200-yard rushing games for a rookie, and so on ...

What many sports fans do not know, is Adrian Peterson's life has been devastated time and again by brain injury.

When Adrian was just 8 years old, his 9-year old brother and best friend, Brian, was struck by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle and died due to his brain injury.

When Adrian was 21 years old and the night before he participated in the 2007 NFL Combine, his 19-year-old brother, Chris Paris, was shot and killed in Houston.

And now at 28 years old, Adrian Peterson found out Friday his 2-year-old son was killed after being violently shaken by the mother's boyfriend and died due to his brain injury.

What is even worse is the accused killer, Joseph Patterson, has been accused of violence multiple times by another woman, the mother of his own son, yet James Patterson was released from custody and ordered to undergo family violence training.

Adrian Peterson was recently reported saying his other son, Adrian Peterson Jr., would never play football. Perhaps the ghosts of former NFL players who died with severe dementia (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) due to repeated brain trauma like Mike Webster, Dave Duerson, Junior Seau and Andre Waters likely had something to do with this declaration.

These are the statistics most Americans are NOT aware of:

• Every 40 seconds, another American youth enters an Emergency Department with a new brain injury (over 765,000 ED visits each year)
• More than 80,000 American youth are hospitalized due to a brain injury each year
• More than 11,000 American youth die due to a brain injury each year
• Approximately 1,300 American infants suffer a severe or fatal brain injury from child abuse each year (it is estimated about 75-85 percent of all brain injuries are not labeled "severe" or "fatal")

Brain injury is the No. 1 leading cause of death and disability for American youth. Brain injury is the leading public health crisis in our nation and you quickly see the impact it had on one American family -- the Adrian Peterson family. Count to 40 seconds and you can add another family who have been impacted by brain injury.

If you compare those numbers to HIV/AIDS (about 56,000 new cases each year) or autism (about 24,000 new cases each year) you can quickly see how brain injury is a public health crisis.

With these staggering numbers, you would think our federal government would be doing everything it could to prevent, identify and treat brain injuries. However, less than $10 million is directed in research for brain injury in youth by our federal government while over $4 billion is directed to HIV/AIDS research. The NFL has spent three times more money on research than our federal government.

We have a national plan for HIV/AIDS, we have a national plan for autism, we have a national plan for obesity, we have a national plan for cancer. Where is our national plan for brain injury?

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