WAUWATOSA - There has been a lot of buzz about concussions and football. In a recent interview with Matt Lauer, Brett Favre said he suffers from memory loss, and he wouldn't let his own son play football because of the damage to your brain.
The Tosa East Raiders and their fans came ready to play. Rose Pridgeon is mom to running back, Michael. She feels every hit Michael takes, and moves from the edge of her seat, down to the field just in case.
You see, Michael, who's only in 7th grade, has already had 3 concussions. He's had terrible headaches, missed classes. Rose doesn't want him to quit football. He likes it. But even Michael knows its serious. He admits, "I'm scared because if I get a really bad concussion, I can never play sports again."
For mom, it's about more than sports. She worries about the rest of his life.
"When they come home and say, 'Mom I've got a broken bone.' I would take that over a concussion any day," she says.
Michael McCrea is a neurologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He explains, "The great unknown right now is what are the potential long term or mid-life risks."
Dr. McCrea works with the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee. He knows when it comes to the brain, there are a lot of questions. "When an athlete has acheived a complete symptom recovery, they're perfoming normally on all our objective tests. Are we certain that the brain has returned to completely normal function and there is no more extended window of risk?"
His mission is to turn that speculation into science. He puts sensors on college athletes, like Carthage College football players, to record all hits to the head. Doctors are studying whether it's about how much total force, how much total exposure, or how many hits players sustain during their participation.
In crunching the data, Dr. McCrea has already found some interesting results.
"In a number of cases, that injury event is preceded by one or multiple impacts of even greater magnitude," he says.
Jacob Dinauer is the head trainer for Carthage College. He admits, "I think we're going to see football change significantly."
Dinauer welcomes the study because people like Dr. McCrea set the guidelines for treating injuries. "There's just so many things that we don't understand and this helps sort of answer some of those questions."
The Raiders went home happy because they won the game. Rose is happy for another reason. "Michael got home and said, 'Mom, everything on my body hurts but my head." And I'm like Yes, I'll take that!"
The study is ongoing. We will keep posted as the results get released.
Also, in case you're wondering, Dr. McCrea is a parent, and he says yes, he would let his son play football.