With football season on the horizon, new research says Mississippians who play are at risk for developing a degenerative brain disease. MPB's Alexis Ware reports.
A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association examined the brains of about 200 former football players, ranging from those who played in high school through athletes who played professionally. Nearly 90 percent of players showed signs of brain damage.
Dr. Jeremy Wells is a physician at Hattiesburg Clinic Sports Medicine. He says brain injury can occur after one big hit or small injuries over time.
"It can happen at any position on the football field any small force or repetitive trauma that's chronically injuring the head can lead to these types of injuries."
For young players experts express the of importance training children to not tackle with their heads.
Lester Ivy is with the Mississippi Youth Football Association. He urges parents to ensure their child has the right equipment.
"Don't just go buy an off the shelf helmet and stick it on his head where it just goes flopping around. It needs to fit tight it needs to be the proper size and make sure that it comes down far enough on his forehead to protect his head."
Scott Piland is a professor of Kinesiology at the University of Southern Mississippi. He says helmets prevent skull damage but have not been proven to protect the brain. He says a good practice for players is to sit out if they've been hit.
"The signs and symptoms that present themselves things like headaches, nausea, feeling in a fog, dizziness, being honest with those symptoms and reporting them so that they can be removed from play."
With high school football season just weeks away, coaches and parents will have to work together to protect Mississippi's young athletes.