Medical professionals gather at YSU to better understand concuss - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Medical professionals gather at YSU to better understand concussions

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In just a couple of weeks, athletes from across the Valley will be suiting up for sports practices.  

This season, many of them will be armed with new research that shows the brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE, has been found in 99% of deceased NFL players' brains that were donated to science.

"It doesn't really add much that we didn't already know or suspect," said sports neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher.

While the study is the largest of its kind, similar research has been done in the past yielding similar results.  

While the brain disease is linked to repeated blows to the head, that doesn't mean all athletes playing contact sports will develop CTE.  The research though does serve as a reminder of the importance of evaluating and treating concussions, which was a topic of discussion at Mercy Health's Concussion Symposium on Thursday.

"The most important thing, if you know nothing about concussions, if there is any doubt, pull the athlete out of competition," said orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Johnston with Mercy Health.

Experts agree awareness is key in understanding the symptoms.  The quicker kids are pulled out of play, the sooner their brains can heal.

"This is a treatable injury and the advances we've made in terms of understanding, evaluating and treating and rehabbing this injury have greatly advanced in the last decade," said UPMC Sports Concussion Program Director Micky Collins, Ph.D.

The head of Mercy Health's orthopaedics and sports medicine program, Ryan Foertch, says a team approach, which involves professionals from different specialties, is the preferred method of evaluating and treating athletes with concussions so they can safely return to the game they love.

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