Even after I left network news, I remained interested in telling stories. And I kept coming back around to one story in particular– football concussions. I’d had a couple myself (see my concussions) and had talked about that with some former pro players who were about my age. I was doing ok but they told me about health problems they had that they believed stemmed from all the hard hits to the head they’d taken during their playing days. Memory loss, headaches, depression, personality change– a sad litany from guys I’d watched in their glory years. It made me want to learn more.
I was interested (and a little disturbed) to hear the very first person I spoke to, Dr. James P. Kelly, an expert on head injury, tell me that the research laboratory for much of what doctors have learned about head trauma has been the football field. (For more on Dr. Kelly and his great work with veterans, see quotes or click here.)
Dr. Kelly and others I spoke to were working hard to try to better understand the forces at play in football, concussions and the limits of human tolerance to head impact, especially at the pro and college level.
But no one seemed to be looking at the game’s very youngest players.
I’m talking about the millions of kids who start playing organized tackle football at age six, seven or eight.
How hard are they hitting? What’s their risk of head injury?
That’s when I found out about Stefan Duma, a professor of biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech. He told me he was about to get some answers to some of these very questions.
The research he and his team are doing enabled me to bring this story to you.
I think it’s important information that will be of interest to millions of families. That’s why I chose it as the first story for this website.