SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA.com) — Scientists are excited about the discovery of a professor’s plan to prevent brain damage after concussions through medication.
The controversial topic of concussion prevention hits home in both professional and minor leagues as more precautions are being put into place to prevent concussions on the football field.
CBS2’s Lisa Sigell spoke with players from the Los Angeles Valley Seahawks youth football team on Thursday about concussion prevention.
Alonzo Fontenette, 12, is recovering from a concussion he gained about three weeks ago.
“I had a big headache, and my vision was blurry,” said Fontenette. “I was running, the ball was thrown to me like up there and I tried to jump for it. When it came down, I slammed my head on the ground.”
According to authorities, the wait to return to a game after receiving a concussion is a minimum of two weeks.
On a professional level, there were 152 concussions in the NFL during last season alone.
According to coaches, newer training techniques have proved to reduce the number of head-to-head collisions; however, they stressed that concussions can still happen regardless of preventative measures.
Player Safety Coach Blake Bahner said that we’ve adapted to get the head out of the game now that concussions have been linked to permanent brain damage and early dementia.
“There’s more awareness now than there used to be,” said Bahner. “Back in the day, when we all used to play, it was a ‘dinger.’ ”
James Lechleiter presented his neurobiology research that was conducted at the University of Texas.
His work proposes the idea of a medication for players to take to prevent brain damage after a blow to the head. Lechleiter believes it is possible to make this medication a reality due to testing his treatment on animal brain cells.
“What we are doing is, we think, enhancing a natural protective pathway in the brain,” said Lechleiter. “Sort of making it more robust when it’s really needed.”
According to Lechleiter, human trials of this concussion medication could begin within five years.
Sigell shared the concept with coaches at practice in Sherman Oaks. Overall, parents and coaches agreed that a quick fix would be great, but they would not provide any medication to their child before gaining FDA approval.
In the meantime, Bahner said he would stick to his coaching techniques and wait for this medication to be approved to work on young players.
Symptoms of a concussion include dizziness, nausea, loss of consciousness and visual problems, officials said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, full recovery from a severe concussion can take up to a year.
*Produced by Gerri Shaftel Constant, CBS2/KCAL9 News Medical Producer