President calls for more research into youth concussions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – On Thursday, President Barack Obama called for more research into youth concussions. It’s an issue I-Team 8′s chief investigative reporter Karen Hensel brought to light earlier this month in the investigation “The Concussion Conflict.”

The President’s summit pushes the concussion issue into a national conversation not over just the NFL lawsuit, but now potential answers.

The White House brought together coaches, parents, young athletes, former NFL players and medical professionals on Thursday.

“For so many of our kids, sports isn’t just something they do, they are part of their identity,” President Obama said.

Concussions are not just an issue in football. A teenage soccer player told her story of living with repeated concussions to open the summit.

“Thinking it was only a headache, I played in the game the very next day. A mistake many athletes make,” Tori Vellucci recalled.

President Obama challenged parents and athletes to step up and know the symptoms.

“We have to change a culture that says you suck it up,” Obama said,

Our I-Team 8 investigation found there isn’t a youth standard for football helmets. Kimberly Archie, an expert witness in concussion lawsuits, says that needs to change. She was at the summit and called it a PR event.

“I think the real change will come through lawsuits. When insurance companies find out they are going to get sued because we know the helmets are too heavy and they keep letting them wear them anyway? Then you will see a new lighter helmet. I don’t think a White House summit is going to create that,” Archie told I-Team 8 via satellite from Washington, D.C.

One of the former athletes at the summit said when we learned more about tobacco, people made different decisions.

“I think it’s interesting people keep using tobacco. People stopped smoking when they found out it caused cancer. Meanwhile, the theme of the concussion summit was for parents not to be scared or afraid,” Archie said.

Former NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington says parents must know the signs of concussion.

“You being as much a part of the solution as the coach…it’s going to take a team effort,” Arrington said,

The President revealed he’s sure he suffered a football concussion while younger. He wants today’s athletes to react differently.

“Identifying a concussion and being able to self-diagnose, this is something I need to take care of, doesn’t make you weak, it means you are strong,” President Obama said.

Former Indianapolis Colts player Ben Utecht, whose career was ended by concussions, was also a panelist.

“Today was a great step, especially in youth sports,” Utecht said in a Twitter message on Thursday.

On Thursday, it was announced that the NCAA and Department of Defense will launch a $30 million concussion study to be done in part at Indiana University. The NFL committed $25 million in part to put athletic trainers in schools.

To learn more about USA Football’s Heads Up Football, click here.

Click here to read about the Concussion Recognition and Response app.

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