Heads Up Youth Sports Concussions

New efforts to tackle sports-related injuries are underway.
3:00 | 03/12/14

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Transcript for Heads Up Youth Sports Concussions
This is a special room. Only injuries and there will be. You know it's the head and those problems will -- -- And so where there where that happens to make -- -- them appropriately and so that's for the focus shifts from prevention to it is appropriate treatment. Treat. -- in the moment and in the longterm along with questions about with a major American -- can -- to keep their players safe. All of -- table today on Capitol Hill where the house energy and commerce committee's hearing testimony from experts and the officials. You just heard from the NFL's senior VP for health and safety police that's Jeff Miller. I'm Democrats -- in New York with this ABC news digital special report and as this hearing is unfolding in Washington I wanna go to ESPN headquarters in Bristol Connecticut. -- we're joined now by five time Pro Bowl safety three time Super Bowl champion ESP NFL analyst. Darren Woodson -- thanks so much for being with -- we really appreciate it. No prospects -- lit listen you've been involved in lots of cutting edge concussion treatment work what for use the one thing the NFL could change tomorrow. That would most improved players say. -- the one place you have to start is in the offseason and allowing players to -- going offseason I go I want to please call Karen brain center. In Dallas Texas -- which dates not only -- access to blood work. They -- -- balance. They tester I movement. All those things that lead that are sold at you may have had a concussion or whatnot bills but the bills -- the capabilities that -- breaks and -- -- now there's places out there and do the same. But every NFL players should go to that after the season so with or if he's experienced. A concussion during a season cinema took place the -- Grayson -- no way he has all that analysis done tool. Before you put him back on the football field but I think every -- it every. Player in the offseason should go to a place in which they get their ballots. Look that their eyes take a look at the blood worked on all over again. Just to make sure your -- Baptist to square one and they should all do baseline tests at the end of the season. I wanted to go to more about the base like -- -- -- talking about today's -- the -- -- didn't plan -- -- anyone. Today eventually they'll be changed course they sent one represented. -- here's Jeff Miller the NFL's represented talking about what the league is done to decrypt potential head trauma. On the field. For those of you or fans you've seen a greater emphasis on eliminating helmet to helmet hits in our game. You've seen a greater emphasis on eliminating the use of the crown of the -- in our game you've seen fines and suspensions. Not to mention penalties as a result of that. And these are the sorts of things that we are looking. To do to change the culture power sport is played. We've encouraged players to lower their target -- as they tackle. With emphasize there are coaching. That there are better ways to go about what they're doing and we've seen the results. In the past year alone between 2012 and 2013. NFL has seen -- decrease in the number of concussions are -- by 13%. So those rules and other forced mean that spent pretty controversial do you think the changes that he's been talking about there. Have been as positive as what -- suggesting. Well I think they have been positive I think those numbers -- sold at their positive -- -- -- gonna of course gonna have some fight back from the players simply because. Their pocketbooks are hit and didn't go spies for -- -- cop content. But saint I think in the -- -- what a great job as far monitoring it. Making sure that players know how to tackle make sure they're not going to -- hit I think that's one thing that's what you have to do when you -- -- this signature in. But saints on players are going to be players it's a contact sport it's a violent sport. And when you're out there playing that game there's nothing in good times are just gonna have -- -- incidents. But in a -- them a great job and I I gotta give kudos to -- as far as applying. What they're saying that rule changes in their goods -- strike take care of players on Opel. Your own story -- you've said that you have not suffered a diagnosed concussion during your thirteen year career. How is that possible and especially given your position given the aggressive style that you play. I know I've never been diagnosed with -- about the same time I'm sure that -- -- numerous amount discusses especially you know bill football field in Italy that thing about it is. He just didn't know back -- ethnic groups were -- where we're what we're doing now or medically. But -- -- played in the ninety's and early two thousands. He didn't really think about it and there were no. The medical staff wasn't on on it like they are now base so the awareness factor wasn't there but I know why hats on because spirits the ground move an expert or two stars like -- things. But I never got diagnosed. -- -- -- But the going back and look at it looking at it now. I have suffered some of those you know those those to justice for -- no doubt about it you know and a lot of players have is just the fact that those those teams now such. Our Seoul where about. Know what's going on and they're taking care players -- -- TV have a concussion during a game they're trying to ticker helmet away from you. -- that'll let you get back on the football that well after experience this kind of symptoms and what have you done in recent years to to address them. The largest and -- -- -- -- again I've -- -- brings in his earlier. What took place all -- bring -- found out that I did have some some brain trauma. From playing the game but at same time those treatable and and it ought to spend 23 weeks there at a time trying to get a balance right. Trying to get my mom I've Bob -- back it's just a normal. And and and they'll start -- things and I did blood work so it's a lot it's it's it's a whole lifestyle change as far as you know what I went through. In order to live on a regular -- There is the new medical report out today doctors measuring baseline blood work from a group of pro hockey players. With blood taken from the same players post concussion the result. A big change in certain markers after the fact could in fact you see a future -- NFL players after a big hit had to take a similar type test. I would totally agree with -- -- if if it's proven that that it that they can diagnosis and -- that. To your blood work they're that you -- experience of -- -- -- hits from. A mall in fort I think it and I think the NFL will be at the same time that they can prove the -- that that that absolutely works. That's that they'll apply to every football team but I think it goes beyond that just not just the NFL but the players. And I understand what the player's mentality is a player's mentality is get back on the football field as fast as you possibly can. Because your jobs in jeopardy so that's the reason why we -- there in risk. You know. Another -- head injury or whatnot not only that -- want to play for years with plate for the Gaza and football team. But the -- on the players have buying into the fact that it is about their safety. And and I -- us a hard thing but it if they can buy into it. -- organizations organizations have to push for in that any and fill out the whole have to be all of the all the way behind it. But if it but if that proves that you'll have to blow worked on helps in any -- way I think -- has to be something that we have to look. While on -- subject of blood test in the league and players have yet to agree on testing for human growth hormone and back tears Miller with the NFL's argument. Unfortunately. Our players association. Has thrown up obstacles. Probably fair to say from our perspective excuses for a period of time. And I think the testing goes to the integrity of the game certainly analysis of the health and safety of the sport. You don't know where this stuff is coming from you don't know why it who's giving it to a player or players and you don't know what they're putting in their bodies. And that's dangerous and it's also the wrong example the sentence at this is in -- -- in and -- important issue for us and and one that works Ari has not gotten accomplished. They're earning your opinion -- are accurate in the description of the impasse that's why haven't the players association agreed to this testing. Dot I don't know that the full spectrum of all both sides a wide of NFL player display associate hadn't hadn't agreed to a but. In a standing out front Indian and analysts are watching the game and and -- in a -- for thirteen years in the NFL. You know I think the -- you have to do is look at and say what for did all the excuses. They have to start testing for HGH I don't care whose quality is -- the NFL's faults in -- -- -- baseball. They have to start testing for H Yates because if -- to separate your concern about the health. Of the NFL football player now in -- -- for almost but also with the -- -- and in all the clothing steroids whatever abuse whatever may be. You have to start testing for each year -- value all the way Ian and I think that's a lot in -- -- and the NFL PA to be. All the way in this horse player protection protect them from themselves. You have a son who plays a couple of sports football baseball among them. If he had a choice the NFL or Major League Baseball what would you direction would you push him towards. What you know listen what got to hustle plays baseball and please select baseball at a high level and it really -- was four I'm and I'm of the belief of doesn't matter was -- if he loves -- football Obama on the vote. Be there to back him and play football if you -- baseball you the way I'm not a god it's gonna say hey dishonesty and the trauma of the sport of the NFL understand. What happens when you play that game played thirteen seasons and I had twelve tool surgeries and I know some violent game but it -- time I'm want to back him. Because I know with if you can be a -- game at the same time. And if he loves played football hey you know I got -- back in this situation. Darren -- former NFL start thank you so much for your time and current ESPN NFL analyst Darren thank you so much appreciated thank you. I want to bring an ABC news chief medical editor doctor Richard -- to expand on this conversation dot Dresser we just talked about. That the new report today doctors measuring baseline blood work. From a group of pro hockey players with blood taken from the same players after a concussion the result. The big change in certain markers inside the brain so how much stock then is the medical community putting into this kind of -- and is there a future for these kinds of tests included in the game. Well you know clearly these kind of tests are needed in in sports for for a number of reasons. Here this this first study shows that that this is on the -- -- protein goes up after after concussion. What you -- to do though in the long term is C what does that mean in terms of the future for that individual. Few people with high levels of that protein going to have a worst course. When the level goes down to normal does that mean a player can go back in to -- to play. So you there's been a call for a long time to develop bio markers for concussion there's an ever reasons -- that players as we as we're hearing from from Darren Woodson. Players would be on the field they don't wanna be out of the game and -- you really can't trust a player or coach for that matter to keep their player at a game for as long as they may need to be out. He need to have something more objective and hopefully. A bio marker will will get us there a lot of the -- -- focusing on the pro and college football and hockey players but what kids that are planning games. For a couple of years -- -- high school. Little less intense games maybe even like soccer what -- we -- about those risks I mean there are a 175000. Visits to the emergency room for concussions in kids under under the age nineteen. And you -- concussions in every sport the kids play. Mice in my son's a big athlete he's had a concussion in basketball and and soccer. For girls soccer is one of the leading. Sports for four concussions ice -- -- -- big sport but any sport that you're playing. He would seek discussions in each sport. At that at the junior level is looking at what can they do to try and make their sport a little bit safer but. Even -- the young -- you see the same thing with athletes where they wanna be in the game they don't wanna be out of play and you need objective testing. But facts -- pro leagues and that hearing today doctor Timothy -- test find it back discussing a bigger challenge. That the NFL is facing something the -- will have a more difficult time ruling out of the game. Since 1920 the average way to pro lineman has increased almost 60% to just over 300 pounds. At the same time these players have gotten about 10% faster. Combining the factors of speed and -- to calculate kinetic energy. The energy available cause injury. We find that the amount of energy dumped into the pit. -- the line of scrimmage on any given play has almost doubled since nineteen -- Bigger faster players what can only do about that I mean it's it's a major problem not just -- pro level at college like I did a story for this week and went down the University of Georgia. And was interviewing these players they are enormous and they are all muscle. And it so you not only need to look at at how do you diagnose the concussion but you have to look at the sport itself. And see what -- changes need to be made to make it safer some people call for getting rid of the kickoff return because that's one of the most dangerous parts of the game. It's also one of the most exciting parts. So how do you balance these things about wanting a sport -- safe enough to protect the players but it's also a sport that people -- -- watch and participate also brought up today at this here in DC doctor Jerry joy. He spoke how little education -- there is some of these younger players parents and even their coaches on a play that. Many coaches and parents are not equipped to know what to do with a suspected concussion. Mechanisms to teach active recognition and response every coach and parent are inconsistent and limited scope. So for young athletes. And their parents will whatever their sport may be. What's the best advice you can give -- parts first preventing injury and then if in fact it -- -- -- dealing with it after. I mean there's there is a lot more focus on this than there was five to ten years ago the CDC has a big program called heads up. Which has has has really guidance for each sport in terms of -- of prevention. But but there's a whole culture and sport dead that we have to. We have to really own up to and -- that idea. I'm gonna take one for the team I'm gonna get back in there as soon as I can. There's a recognition that after -- concussion you really need to rest not just from the sport but but kids who are in school. Need rest from from from school work as well the brain has to -- -- at most vulnerable after that first concussion because if you get another one before your brain is healed that's where can be deadly -- we can -- permanent brain damage. Sound advice not only from the schoolyard and obviously also in the pros as well from ABC's. Doctor Richard bastard -- Ressa thank you appreciate that. And of course you can keep up on this story and all of today's testimony in real time by download an ABC news out and starring this story for exclusive updates on the go. For now though I'm -- that our New York which is ABC news digital special report.

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

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