Obama Delivers Remarks on Kids and Safe Sports

The president speaks at a summit on concussions and other sports injuries.
24:53 | 05/29/14

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Transcript for Obama Delivers Remarks on Kids and Safe Sports
This is a special room. I'm Michelle Franzen in new York College the first ever concussion summit. President Obama is tackling the growing issue of kids and sports injuries. The president is set to speak soon but first let's go to ABC's Devin Dwyer who was standing by at the White House. -- talk to us about what the -- -- of the summit will include today and the Genesis of it. Good afternoon Michelle that's right this is what their billing as the first ever White House summit on concussions really. A two pronged goal here they're trying to raise awareness about this issue one that hasn't gotten a lot of attention traditionally -- to fight. But the White House is calling a culture of resistance to coming forward about concussions also promoting greater researching the concussions. An area that there -- -- a lot of data on in the president's -- shine the spotlight -- mostly institutional and census is the first ever summit at the White House give us an idea who is part of this summit today. Yet it -- brought together they -- about 200 people here from. From colleges and university sports pro sports the military we also know that their representatives here from various. Medical research facilities also families of people. And children who have suffered concussions all coming together to talk about this issue. And we know that the president's gonna speak there'll be a little bit of a panel discussion on the issue after the fact. And they were gonna do some demonstrations outside here on on the White House. One is showing they have some soccer and some football and in how to be safe with your head in those passports but it's. Unfortunately -- here today so that part of it has been canceled. -- along with the discussion there's also been some commitments made along the way with some a lot of money. Committed to finding out more about these injuries give us an idea whose plunking down some -- here that's right. And so part of this summit is bringing together these stakeholders in the issue of concussions in the White House today is announcing. That a number these groups are going to spend some cash to do some more research into this the biggest announcement today is thirty million dollars. Coming from the NCAA in the Pentagon their -- not really. To conduct one of the largest longitudinal studies on concussions 37000. Students they're gonna look at in this study to try to what they say. Follow the natural progression of concussions from start to finish to really look at what the long term effects are on kids. So that's a big announcement today we are also meetings criminal trial today united they're gonna put -- five million dollars down as well. And it -- of the president's. The White House right now. For some it's nice evening here off and good morning I'm -- -- -- I'm here today to share my personal experience with concussions from playing soccer and their impact on my life. Is vital to further educated public. On emotional and physical dangers of concussions and I'm honored to have been invited here to share my story in hopes of -- awareness of the concussions. And symptoms like. Many things change throughout my life but -- passion for soccer and -- constant. I start playing soccer not just four years old and when I was EI drinkers -- travel soccer team. -- fourteen I want France's soccer field. A tiny town high for the first time as a freshman unaware of how my life -- change in the years to follow. And for years I had honor of leading my team to three C championship -- appearances worries -- titles. Three conference championships while being awarded in that individual honors like -- the of the year. And receiving a scholarship to play division one collegiate soccer. But other side of my story began in my sophomore year but I went up for a pattern during a game and got my -- -- Think he is -- headache I -- in the very next day mistake that many athletes make. A volcanic game -- another severe concussion. And starting my battle with head injuries which I'm still fighting to this day. During the next two years experience former concussions but Johnson my ability to reform on the field as well as in the class -- Simple tasks like Sam -- silence remembering class schedules as socializing with my friends became increasingly difficult. There's also emotionally draining trying to learn how to live with everlasting and my -- lasting impacts of my compassion and to adjust to life without soccer. Concussions had drastically Alter my life but these hearings has also paid a new cap. For my future and -- -- take anything for granted. Stories like mine are -- to comment which is violently to think President Obama for shining -- light on concussions and the severe impact they can have on young -- life. That being said -- mourn and honor to introduce our next speaker the present in the United States mr. Barack Obama. The. When you as a dad when he towards parents are here. And I have to imagine. They are awfully proud this remarkable young lady in we really appreciate you taking time. -- introduced me I want to welcome everybody here to the White House. I want to thank members of congress were here we've got leaders from America's sports medical community's. Especially. Young people who -- like Torre who did such a great -- sharing her story today. They'll all across the country. There are millions of young athletes just like Torre who spend their weekends and Summers on baseball diamonds and soccer pitches. And they put in extra practice so they can make varsity or maybe even earn a college scholarship. Most of them are not as good as Torre was in her sport -- certainly wasn't. Although I have the same enthusiasm. And for so many markets sports aren't just something they do -- part of their identity. They may be fighting scientists are -- -- -- -- or writers. But they're also strikers linebackers point guards and that's a good thing. First of all the First Lady thinks. There readies to move. And and and obviously there's there's a huge public health interest in. Making sure that people are participating in sports but sports is also just fundamental to who we are as Americans and our culture. We're competitive we're driven. And sports teaches about teamwork and hard work and what it takes to succeed not just on the field but in life. And I was basketball player. As I -- not as good as -- was a soccer. But. I learned so many lessons playing sports that I carry on. To this day even to the presidency and still when I need to relax and clear my head I turn to sports. Whether it's a -- basketball game and I'm much slower than I was just. Last week. Horror. More sedate pastimes like golfer. You know. Watching sports center. And that's more the -- as a parent. -- Michelle and I have always encouraged. Our girls to play sports more -- the greatest transformations I think him. Our society has been how young women have been finally given the opportunity because title nine. And and now you see. Just unbelievable. Women athletes who are getting the same exposure and experience and outlets. For sports all across. All across the country and Malia and Sasha -- are part of that generation they take for granted. Proportion were playing sports and they played everything from soccer to basketball. Tennis and track. So sports are important to -- life -- -- family just like we are for families all across the country. The reason we're here today though is. All across the country parents. Are also having a more troubling conversation and that's about the risks. Of concussions. There's. A lot of concern but there's a lot of uncertainty. And as Torre's story suggests. Concussions are not just a football issue. They don't just effect. Grown men who choose to accept some -- to play a game but they love them that they excel at every season you've got boys and girls. We're getting concussions and in lacrosse and soccer and wrestling an eye -- As well as football and in fact the Center for Disease Control reports that in the most recent. Data that's available to us. Young people made it nearly 250000. Emergency room dozens. Was brain injuries from sports reparation. Two -- 50000. That number obviously doesn't include kids who see their family doctor or. As is typical. Don't seek any medical help. Before. The -- awareness was out there when I was young and played football briefly. There were a couple times where I'm sure. That -- better -- bringing sensation in my head. And the -- sit down for awhile might have been a mild concussion and at the time he didn't think anything of -- The awareness. Is improved today but not by much. So that the total number of young people who are impacted by this early on is probably. Bigger than we know. I say this not to scare people we want our kids participating in sports. I'd be much more troubled. If young people were shying away from sports. As parents -- we want to keep them safe and that means we have to have better information. We have to know. What these issues are. The fact is we don't have solid numbers. Last fallen -- -- report found that there are too many gaps in the understanding of the effects and treatment for concussions. Researchers are still learning about the causes and consequences of these entrance. Communities are wondering how young -- -- to start tackle football for example. Parents are wondering whether their kids are learning the right techniques. Or wearing the best safety equipment. Or whether they should sign up from. To have their kids participating full contact sports at all. -- we've got some outstanding scientists are very like Francis Collins and ahead of NIH. There may be. Tests that at some point we can do to see if there. Is a particular susceptibility. Two concussions. Some people's. Brains may be more vulnerable. To to trauma than others are we don't know that yet but there may be some evidence. That it is -- explore so -- all these. Questions swirling around. As a parent and as a fan. And in discussions with a lot of other parents and fans who happen to be in this White House we -- -- -- argues. Are convening power to help find some more answers and today we brought together. The president. The NCAA the MLS commissioner. This senior leadership from the NHL and US soccer in the NFL and NFL players association. We've also got some -- the nation's foremost brain experts. Got doctors who work with kids every day from. You all over the country we've got. Leaders and pop Warner Little League and under armour and ESPN participating -- we've got members of congress like Joyce Beatty and Tim Bishop and bill passed grow all -- particular great interest in this. And because were all here. And are looking for information even if we may not agree on everything. The one thing we can agree on this is that sports are vital to this country and it's a responsibility for us to make sure that young talented. Kids like Torre. Are able to participate as safely as possible and that we are doing our job. Both as parents and school administrators coaches. -- To look after them the way they need to be looked after that's job number one. The good news is. Across the country people eagerly signed up to participate here they recognize this is an issue that is worth paying attention to. We've seen all fifty states pass laws requiring could cost athletes to get a medical -- before that would return to play. Folks from US a hockey banned checking before twelve years old. In March NFL donated 45 million to USA foot football for their heads up football program which emphasizes -- training and player safety. On our part this administration. The CDC has spearheaded. A public awareness campaign for parents and athletes and coaches and school staff called heads up and you can check it out at CDC dot gov slash concussion. It's. That's word. We're we've compiled a lot of the best information available for parents. And while the number of concussions report among young athletes has risen over the past decade. One reason is likely because players coaches and parents better understand symptoms. Of these injuries. Still there's more work to do we've got to have better research better data that are safety equipment better protocols. We've got -- have every parent coach and teacher recognize the signs of concussions and we need more athletes to understand how important it is. To do what we can't prevent injuries. And to admit them when they do happen to -- -- to change a culture that says you suck it up. Identifying. A concussion. And and being able to self diagnosed that mrs. This is something that I need to take care doesn't make you -- -- to -- -- strong. Let's say don't point out that this is not just a matter for athletes. -- you'll notice this big guy here. Ray Odierno. Who. It is not only. The leader of our army. But. Also somebody plays football. -- -- still was probably could. But as as a leader. Armed forces he sees the effects that. Injuries head on brave men and women who serve in uniform and all of -- secure is cares about. That's why racers that and I've seen in my. Visits to wounded warriors traumatic brain injury is one of its signature issues of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The thing is the vast majority of mild. Traumatic brain injury cases in the military occur outside deployment. So even -- our wars are ending addressing this issue will continue to be important to our -- forces. And as part of a new national action plan we announced last year. We're -- more than a hundred million dollars in new research to find more effective ways to help prevent diagnose. And treat mental health conditions and traumatic brain injury because the more we can learn about the effects of brain injuries the more we can do to help -- troops and veterans recover. And that obviously gives us more information about our kids as well. Today by the way I'm proud to announce a number of new commandments of partnerships from the folks in this room there are gonna help us move the ball forward on this issue. The NCAA and the department -- are teaming up to commit thirty million dollars for concussion education any study involving up to 37000. College athletes. Which will be the most conference -- cut concussion study ever. And our service academies army navy air force and Coast Guard are all signed up to sport the study in -- -- they that they can. The NFL is committing point five million of new funding over the next. Three years to test strategies like creating health and safety forms for parents. And they're building on the program pilot but my own Chicago Bears to get more traders. At high school games. And the NIH. Is announcing the next step in this partnership with the NFL they're dedicating sixteen million of the NFL's previous donation -- studies and clinical trials. To examine the chronic effects of repetitive concussions. The National Institute of Standards and Technology will invest five going over the next five years to explore the development of of lighter and smarter and more responsive. Materials for protective equipment. And I want -- signal out. The New York Giants chairman Steve Tisch whose here and is donating ten million dollars of his own money. To expand the -- -- program UCLA to prevent study and treat concussions are traumatic brain injury. In -- so all these new commitments are terrific and we want to thank everybody. So just to wrap up so you can hear from people actually know what they're talking about. These efforts are gonna make a lot of difference for a lot of people that soldiers on the battlefield to students the football field. Take. Bolivian family from Rockville Maryland were here today. Where they go they're there are right there. Charles Jason. Levine have three boys who when you look at him you know right -- the Brothers Isaacson in -- They have loved ice hockey since -- -- job. -- when he was seven years old -- suffered a pair of moderate concussions on the ice. A few years later when Isaac was -- Ritter he suffered a more severe concussion and a game. After the injury both boys had headaches they start struggling class. The start acting out Isaacs concussion even kept him out of school for awhile. And and as you might imagine Cheryl was it was horrified. As she put it you only have one -- that's a good point. You want to make sure that your treatment right. Fortunately with the help of their doctors -- voice help them and behavior improved to. Sydney was back on the -- ten weeks after his concussion he's -- -- -- played varsity next year's freshman. And last winner Isaac -- -- -- As his high school team won the state championship. Now show and Jason -- pulled their boys out it was such scare. And have their doctors recommended that that's what they would -- what they knew the just like millions gets across the country kids love their sports. Some so Cheryl and Jason educated themselves on the issue. And whether doctor's blessing and the support of the coaches and teachers they're encouraging. Their boys to lace up. Those skates in and get out on the ice and -- Cheryl said my kids aren't going to go on and play in the NHL but up. I don't know them by the work. But what I'm worried about. Is getting them through their teams while having fun and building confidence in doing things -- wanna do obviously within surveillance that's some -- turn to Marsha. And that's what today's about. Give parents information they need to help -- markets compete safely. Let's keep encourage Americans to get up and play sports but they love and doing the right way. That's not a job just for parents but its job for all of us and that's why the public private partnerships like these are important. In a few minutes I know the many of your gonna. Take this discussion step further -- this panel of experts moderated by Pam Oliver which we're very grateful for but I want to thank all of you for coming here today. For your content distribution short kids' future and most of all wanna thank the young people who are here particularly -- for. Highlighting why this issue so important we're really excited by -- -- I was not going to be planned. Soccer when she goes to college -- graduated. She does intend to stay involved in the sport and understands going to be doing some coaching of some four -- five year -- this summer. And she's gonna pass on some of the knowledge. Harder knowledge that that she's -- And and that's what we know she's going to be a terrific success -- whatever she chooses to do thank your -- And you are watching President Obama. At the White House. Cautions right now we want to bring in ABC's chief medical added. Doctor Richard -- and if you wanna continue -- watching this summit you can go to abcnews.com. -- -- live streaming. Doctor -- -- we just heard from the president addressing this growing concern over sports injuries. What are some of the bigger questions out there that need to be answered on this issue. Yeah I mean this. Is this is a very important move by -- by the president there are so many unanswered questions when it comes to concussions. Hopefully this will will will help lead to some of those answers. But everything from from the cause of concussion. Why some people are at greater risk than others the best waited to treat concussions. How do you prevent concussions. And then what's the long term impact is there any long term impact on -- on on someone who has a concussion. And does it matter even what age you have a concussion all of the all of these things -- -- these questions are out there. And there's guidance based on what people think the answers to those questions are but but this information is just not -- And the president -- said today concussions are not just from playing football doctor -- just yesterday White House spokesman Jay -- discuss the growing concern over sports concussions. They set the stage for some serious problems that can last a lifetime. What are some of these. Well you know it's as we do with said there -- Torre talked about having more than one confession she wasn't playing playing football. Concussions in girls is a big issue the recovery time is much longer. What you worry about is will this impact on -- somebody's ability to think it will it impact on their mood. Will -- impact on their development these are all unanswered questions. We used to focus on concussions as you know when should someone get back to playing the sport when is it safe to go back to sport. But now we're learning that that involves not just the ability to go out and do something physical involves your ability did to go into classroom and thing to process to learn. And -- we're learning that he that children have to actually have down time from from thinking from being in class from from watching television from all of those things. In the in order to let their brain -- And so the president brought this coalition together of -- -- pro sports organizations all the way down to Little League families. He says he wants to raise awareness also focus on preventative measures give us an idea of what parents should do. When their children's may get her. Yet you know I would I would right now pull out you're your Smartphone or go online and download the app that the CDC has on the web -- that heads up that. Because that gives you a lot of information about what are the signs of -- concussion many people mistakenly think that a concussion means that you got knocked out playing a sport. Very small percentage of people who have a concussion ever lose consciousness. -- that things that you need to look for is apparent are. You know following following some kind of contact who were or rapid back and forth movement of they -- Is there is there any headache is there any nausea. Is there any difficulty in thinking or blurred vision. Is your child having any trouble sleeping either sleeping too much -- not sleeping as much. Or has the mood changed -- they are they have more irritable that muted than usual. Those can all be signs of -- concussion and there they're pretty subtle. ABC's chief medical editor doctor Richard -- thanks so much for joining us on this issue my pleasure. This is that an ABC news digital special report keep up with the story and real time by download in the ABC news happened starring this story for exclusive updates on the go for now. I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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