Online Program

Regulatory approaches to reducing risks of brain trauma

Monday, November 4, 2013

Christine Baugh, MPH, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
There is an increasing body of scientific evidence that suggests that repetitive brain injuries can lead to acute and chronic neurological deficits, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease. CTE has been implicated in the high profile deaths of professional football players, but the disease has also been found in the brains of individuals with only youth or college level sports experience. Given the 44 million children and adolescents who participate in organized sports in the United States, understanding and minimizing the risks associated with brain trauma is a major public health priority. Although increased awareness about damage due to concussions has helped lead to widespread adoption of concussion legislation, the current “template” legislation adopted by most states only addresses a portion of the acute effects of brain trauma incurred by youth athletes. Thus, there are many ways in which the “template” legislation can be improved. The most important step to reducing the damage caused by repetitive brain trauma from youth sports is to limit the exposure through eliminating off-season contact practices, limiting in-season contact practices, and utilizing available technology to monitor and appropriately reduce the number of hits incurred by each athlete. Adoption of these common sense changes will vastly decrease the exposure to repetitive brain trauma, thus helping to address the spectrum of acute and long-term health problems associated with concussions.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Explain the current knowledge of acute and long-term risks of repetitive brain trauma. Discuss the current measures in place to protect youth athletes from the risks of brain trauma. Identify how current measures to reduce the effects of brain trauma in youth athletes are lacking. Demonstrate how measures to reduce brain trauma in youth athletes can be improved.

Keyword(s): Traumatic Brain Injury, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the research coordinator on multiple projects related to the long-term effects of concussions and spent much of my public health education examining regulatory strategies to reducing the risks of brain trauma in youth athletics.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.