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“Concussion” is all over the news, and—yes—it has implications for combating chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Many parents are pushing their children away from collision sports such as football, hockey, and lacrosse because they fear the risk of chronic neurodegenerative problems later in life. However, there is good logic in emphasizing the importance of physical activities such as collision type sports, during the developmental years. Physical educators, researchers, policy makers, and coaches must work together to encourage safe play and rules changes that can keep youth and adolescents active in sports that build character, discipline, and teach teamwork. Understanding the complexity of the highly adaptable adolescent brain both prior to and following sport-related concussion is critically important in accomplishing this goal.
The author (NAK Member #466) is the Kenan Distinguished Professor and Chair, Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.