Nightly News   |  October 30, 2013

‘Culture of resistance’ spurs concussions in kids’ sports

A new report indicates there is “limited evidence” that current models of helmets and mouthguards reduce the risk of youth concussions. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> we are back with a warning about kids and sports. specifically here a major report from the respected institute of medicine . it has sobering findings in it about a risk we have been talking about a lot lately -- and that's concussions. more frequent in high school than in college and certain spores, especially football and women's soccer. we get more tonight from our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman .

>> reporter: new jersey high school senior jake gramlick has been playing footballe since third grade. at 17 he's already had two serious concussions.

>> when i hit the ground my head was ringing. it hurt so bad.

>> reporter: did you realize at that moment that you were not the same kid you were five minutes before?

>> yeah. i just didn't have everything there. really couldn't think. had memory loss. didn't really know where i was, what i was doing.

>> reporter: the second time, his mom rushed him to the emergency room . even though he was wearing a helmet, the injury was more severe.

>> a helmet at this point i feel like that's not going to protect you from a concussion. maybe a skull fracture , but not from the trauma in the brain.

>> reporter: a new report released today by the institute of medicine and the national research council reaches a startling conclusion. while helmet and mouth guard use is important there is limited evidence that current models reduce the risk of youth concussions. nourl gist dr. steven thompson is seeing it first hand.

>> wearing a helmet doesn't give you immunity from head injury . it is just added protection.

>> reporter: why? even though helmets and mouthguards prevent skull fractures and other injuries, the brain floats freely within the skull. serious impacts create damage. the country's largest football helmet manufacturer, riddell, says in a statement today's findings can only help the sport advance and continue to grow. researchers found that after being injured, most young athletes recover within two weeks. but 10 to 20% have concussion symptoms that may last months or years. for jake gramlick, it's a lesson learned.

>> i feel like no matter what you are not going to be able to avoid a concussion. no matter what they do, how hard they try to fix it, helmet to helmet contact will will happen.

>> reporter: 40,000 young football players are rushed to emergency departments with concussions every year. there is a culture of resistance resistance, players not reporting symptoms, parents not reporting changes in their children and sometimes coaches putting kids back in the game when they should be sitting it out on the sidelines. it goes for boys and young girls.

>> so much more to say and report on this topic. we will as time goes