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Teams working to protect kids from concussions

Posted at 10:39 PM, Jul 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 14:23:08-04
High School football coaches every year they are hearing from parents concerned about the damage the game could be doing to their kid’s brains.
"There are major concerns about the head injuries," Faith Lutheran High School football coach Vernon Fox said.
The coach says he always puts his players health ahead of the team’s need, but at the time says a lot has changed over the past few years to protect players from concussions.
"You take every precautionary measure to give them the safest environment you can," Fox said.
The latest round of headlines coming courtesy of study recently published by JAMA, which found Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 99 percent of deceased NFL players’ brains.
The disease can only be diagnosed after death, but has been linked to people exposed to repeated head trauma.
An important disclosure from researchers however, the study only looked at brains donated by the players’ families. 
Many of those families already suspected the subjects suffered from CTE because of clinical symptoms that have been linked to the degenerative brain disease.
While all but one of the NFL players’ brains that were studied showed signs of CTE,  the numbers dropped from those who played at lower levels.
48 of the 53 college football players showed signs of CTE compared with 3 of the 14 brains of high school players.
The threat of long-term impacts from the repeated collisions on the football field has coaches taking extra precautions, even from the youngest ages.
"Don't want to lead with their head. That Can lead to neck injuries, concussions, all the bad stuff," Phil Mendiola said.
Mendiola is the coach of the 702 49ers, and is working to make sure the players, including his son, are protected with the best equipment and training when it comes to proper tackling.
And that ethos goes all the way up to the high school game as well.
For the past couple years, Faith Lutheran players have worn extra padding on their helmets at practice to reduce the damage from repeated impacts. 
"The number of head injuries and concussions have drastically reduced," Fox said.
When it comes to protecting his players, Fox says their players are his top priority.
"We hope that they understand that this is serious." "It is not something they can avoid.  We don't take chances when it comes to players and their safety," Fox said. "If it means losing a player that could help you win a game, it is not worth his health."
The other thing most leagues are requiring from a young age are concussion tests before the players ever take the field in an effort to reduce the chance of repeated injuries.