Aug. 31, 2006 — -- When more than 1.5 million youth football players across the country hit the gridiron this fall, a startling number of them will likely suffer a head-related injury.
Even though athletes may shrug off the discomfort of getting "dinged" or "getting your bell rung," these concussions can be quite serious.
A recent study found that 47 percent of high school pigskin players suffered a concussion each season, according to statistics gathered by the National Center for Injury Prevention.
Thirty-five percent of players say they had more than one concussion in the same season.
Multiple concussions increase the risk of long-term damage to the brain, doctors say.
Yet, most concussions at the high school level go unreported to athletic trainers.
Many young athletes and their parents don't know the telltale signs of a concussion. The symptoms include nausea, dizziness and headache.
To help students, parents and coaches better identify concussions and prevent them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a free tool kit called "Heads Up: Concussions in High School Sports" that is available online at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/tbi/Coaches_Tool_Kit.htm
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 300,000 sports- and recreation-related concussions are diagnosed nationwide each year.
However, the college estimates that 85 percent of concussions typically go undiagnosed.
Christopher Nowinski calls it a crisis.
The former Harvard football player and professional wrestler has written a new book entitled "Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis" to bring attention to the issue that hits close to home.
Nowinski's career came to an end after he suffered a concussion while wrestling for World Wrestling Entertainment in 2003.
He later found out that he had sustained multiple concussions over his sports career, but did not know it.
"I wasn't getting very good answers from the experts to help me understand why I was suffering from headaches and memory problems and depression for weeks and even months after the impact," Nowinski said.