WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama believes he suffered a concussion while playing football when he was young.
Obama made the comment while speaking before an audience at a day-long summit on concussions at the White House Thursday.
“When I was young and played football briefly, there were a couple times, I’m sure, that the ringing sensation in my head and the needing to sit down for a while might have been a mild concussion,” Obama said. “At the time you don’t think anything of it. The awareness is improved today, but not by much.”
Obama stated that there is still much more work to be done to better diagnose concussions and how to prevent and treat them.
“We have to have better research, better data, better safety equipment, better protocols,” Obama noted. “We’ve got to have every parent, coach and teacher to recognize the signs of concussions. We need more athletes to understand how important it is to do what we can to prevent injuries and to admit them when they do happen.”
Obama continued: “We have to change a culture that says, ‘You suck it up.’ Identifying a concussion and being able to self-diagnose that this is something I need to take care of doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong.”
Representatives of professional sports leagues, coaches, parents, young athletes and researchers attended the White House summit.
Among the financial commitments is a $30 million joint effort by the NCAA and the Defense Department to produce research on concussion risks, treatment and management.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that can be caused by a blow to the head, or a blow to the body powerful enough to jostle the brain around inside the skull. Nearly 250,000 kids and young adults visit hospital emergency rooms each year with brain injuries caused by sports or other recreational activity, the White House said.
The White House summit comes less than a year after the NFL agreed to pay $765 million to settle lawsuits from thousands of retired players who accused it of concealing the risks of concussions. A federal judge has yet to approve the settlement, expressing concern the amount is too small.
The athletes in the concussion case blamed dementia and other health problems on the bone-crushing hits that helped lift pro football to new heights of popularity.
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