Head Games: NFL Confronted By Former Players (Part 2)
Teen's Concussion Leads to Legislation
Joseph O'Neil, M.D., M.P.H., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Indiana University and is board-certified in Pediatrics. (Photo courtesy of Joseph O'Neill, M.D.)
In the fall of 2006, a 13-year-old boy named Zachery Lystedt suffered a concussion while making a tackle in a junior high school game in Maple Valley, Washington. But no one knew it and his coaches sent him back into the game. He suffered a second concussion, leading to years of rehabilitation before he was able again to walk and talk.
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Dr. Joseph O'Neill of Indianapolis, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Indiana University, says that shouldn't have happened.
"As physicians, we can only make suppositions that if this young man had gotten appropriate care and did not have a second hit to the head, he may not have had the serious and devastating injuries that he had," he said. "It appears that he developed either bleeding or swelling of the brain after the second hit."
The State of Washington reacted by adopting "Zachary's Law"--requiring education of all participants and parents involved in youth sports about the risk of concussion. Indiana is now one of 24 other states with similar laws.
Lisa Pagel, the wife of former Colts quarter Mike Pagel, says she is tempted to insist that her stepson give up football. Kellen Pagel is on the bench at the University of Massachusetts because of lingering symptoms of a concussion he suffered last year.
But the concerned stepmother says children do what they want to do.
"My other son is a Green Beret in the Army and frankly I really wasn't...100 percent for that either," she said with a laugh.
Lisa Pagel concedes that she might be overreacting. But there's another family wondering how things might have been different if someone been this concerned about Indiana's 1979 Mr. Football, Muncie Northside High School legend Dave Duerson--a Super Bowl winner who had seemed indestructible before something went terribly wrong.
We'll tell his story tomorrow.
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» Head Games: NFL Confronted By Former Players (Part 1) (9-4-12)