High schools taking steps to protect players from concussions

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- As doctors discover more about how the brain works and how it can be permanently affected by even a seemingly mild concussion, parents of young athletes are more concerned than ever about the hits their kids take on the field.

Data released by the NFL earlier this month shows that nearly three in 10 former players will develop debilitating brain conditions, and that they will be stricken earlier and twice as often as the general population.

It's a very real concern, particularly for kids who start playing young. Doctors are still learning about the cumulative effects of concussions.

Because concussion can be extremely difficult to diagnose, doctors now recommend that athletes get baseline concussion tests.

"So baseline testing is any neurologic test that can objectively measure what their brain activity is like before [an injury]," Dr. Steven Erickson explained. "Then you repeat after an injury so you can compare their neurologic function to their previous neurologic function."

Schools are taking action, too, so that diagnoses can be made sooner and kids protected from further injury.

3TV's Gina Maravilla talked to the head football coach at St. Mary's High School, Todd Williamson, about the steps schools are taking to protect its players. He explained that two doctors are on the sidelines at every game St. Mary's plays.