Calling for a change in the culture on addressing sports injuries, President Barack Obama recalled a few times when he may have experienced mild concussions himself.
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“Before the awareness was out there, when I was young and played football briefly, there were a couple of times where I’m sure that that ringing sensation in my head and the need to sit down for a while might have been a mild concussion, and at the time you didn’t think anything of it,” Obama said Thursday, opening the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit.
“The awareness is improved today, but not by much. So the total number of young people who are impacted by this early on is probably bigger than we know,” Obama added.
The president said he didn’t get checked out at the time, like most student athletes of that generation. But he said that should change.
“We need to change the culture that says suck it up,” Obama said.
The president said according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 250,000 high school athletes go to the emergency room each year for sports-related head injuries.
“We want our kids to participate in sports. I’d be much more troubled if young people shied away from sports. As parents though, we want to keep them safe,” Obama said. “The first lady thinks everybody needs to move. Obviously there is a huge public health interest in making sure people participate in sports.”
The NCAA and Defense Department are jointly launching a $30 million effort to fund a clinical study of concussions.
The NFL is also committing $25 million over the next three year to promote youth sports safety, working with the National Athletic Trainers Association, the National PTA and the American Heart Association. The National Institutes of Health is also launching a $16 million research program with help from the NFL.