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Concussion-related brain disease found in soccer player raises alarm

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Albany/HV: Concussion-related brain disease found in soccer player raises alarm
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The discovery of a concussion-related brain disease in a soccer player has raised new concerns. Tamara Lindstrom sat down with an expert who says we need to do more to keep athletes safe.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- It's widely known that football collisions can lead to head trauma in young athletes.

But the discovery of a concussion-related brain disease in a soccer player has raised new concerns.

Depression, memory loss, and dangerous behavior are just some of the changes that can result from multiple head injuries.

"We don't have all the answers yet, but we do know concussion can have long term effects. And one of those effects is CTE, which is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy," said Chris Hummel, an associate professor at Ithaca College.

A disease that can only be discovered after death, but is known to affect football players, was discovered in the brain of a soccer player.

"In a course of a soccer game, there's going to be heading the ball, collisions. Going up for a ball and contact can happen. So even in soccer, concussions can occur. This isn't just a football injury," Hummel said.

And it doesn't take the repeated crashing of helmets to cause damage.

"Any blow to the head can cause the brain not to function the way it should. So simply, a concussion is any result of any type of trauma to the brain that doesn't allow it to function normally," Hummel said.

While many questions remain about the long-term impact of concussions, Hummel says the effects can be life-altering. Especially when it happens to youth.

"That youth athlete's brain is a little more vulnerable to those collisions. It's developing. We don't know exactly what stage of development that brain is in. So when it gets that collision, we have a big concern that that brain might have long tern consequences from that," Hummel said.

Hummel points out that while professional and school teams have safety protocols in place, less-organized community sports programs might be lacking the resources to keep kids safe.

"It's educating the athlete, it's educating the parents, the coaches. Having the right personnel on the sideline," Hummel said.

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