CTE is still a relatively rare disease among the general population, although among professional football players and other high-risk populations it is much more common. Clearly, taking steps to decrease head injury can help decrease risk of CTE. For children involved in contact sports, there are a few key steps to help reduce risk of repeated head injury:
Use proper head protection.
Safety gear can make a substantial difference in the severity of both minor and major hits. Helmets and other gear can reduce the force of impact on the head and decrease the brain-skull collision, which helps protect against concussion or injury. Helmets will not prevent head injury, but they can help to reduce it (8)
If injured, report it.
If an athlete takes a big hit to the head during a game or practice, the worst thing to do is to continue playing. This puts the athlete at more risk for making the head trauma worse or receiving another head trauma. After a significant hit, it is important to assess the damage and determine whether it is safe to continue, or if concussion testing is necessary.
Follow concussion protocols.
New protocols following concussion have been developed to ensure that the brain is fully healed before it is put at risk of being reinjured. By following these protocols, athletes can significantly reduce risk of a second concussion.
Raise awareness for CTE.
Many athletes still don’t know or understand the risks involved every time they get out onto the field. By increasing awareness of CTE and the damage that can result from head injuries, players can make informed decisions on their brain health.