Former NFL star Tony Dorsett is the latest pro-footballer to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease linked to concussions.
Dorsett believes too many hits to the head during his career left him with this crippling disease and he's now suing the NFL.
FOX6 spoke with a doctor today about concussion concerns.
"He's been playing since 3rd grade," Paula Moody, a parent of football player, said.
Her son is now a sophomore at Homewood High School. She's aware of possible injuries he could sustain, like a concussion, but it's not something she worries about.
"[I] depend on him wearing the helmet and gear correctly. Hopefully he's trained to hit right and get hit right," Moody said.
"Thousands and thousands of men have played football, only have a few that have CTE," Dr. Thomas Novack, a neuropsychologist at Spain Rehabilitation Center said.
Which is why Novack says people shouldn't overreact or have fears about CTE.
He says there's disagreement among doctors whether CTE exists as a unique disorder or if it's a form of dementia.
"The exploration in the studies looking at CTE right now are still in the beginning stages," Novack said.
Novack says more research about what happens to football player's brains over time needs to be done.
"Just because someone has an injury in contact sports, including a concussion, does not mean they will not recover well," Novack said.
Dr. Novack says the issue is multiple concussions, which he says could lead to brain problems over time.
As for Paula Moody, she's aware it's a risk her son takes every time he's on the field.
"It's scary because who knows long term, but it just means we have to be more diligent if and when they do get a concussion," Moody said.
UAB researchers are examining new things that can minimize the effects of a concussion. It's part of a grant from NFL charities for sports-related medical research at 15 institutions.
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