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Obama at concussion awareness event: There were a few times I had ‘that ringing sensation in my head’

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 29: U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit in the East Room of the White House May 29, 2014 in Washington, DC. According to the White House, Obama will announce public and private commitments to 'raise awareness among young athletes, parents, school administrators, clinicians, coaches, and youth sports programs about how to identify, treat, and prevent concussions, as well as to conduct additional research in the field of sports-related concussions that will help better address concussions among students.' Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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.

Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

“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.

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