A Hero's Message Can Go a Long Way for TBI Awareness

Professional athletes could help educate the myriad kids who look up to them by being upfront about the dangers of brain injury.

You can go in like we do at UCLA. We have an educational program that goes to each of the high schools, and we say, "Okay, we'll be happy to give you a 1-hour training session or talk to the coaches or to the kids about concussion or brain injury." And I think that helps to some degree, but what really helps--and this is one of the things that is very, very hard for professional athletes that are role models for young people to do is to get in front of the camera and say, "Do not--when in doubt, I want you to sit out." You know--"This is not worth your risk to do this." And it's very hard for these individuals to make that kind of statement because they are being labeled themselves as having a concussion, and they don't want to be involved in any kind of disability, legal problems, and they also don't want to worry about early retirement or problems that are associated with that. But when we can have somebody like a Troy Aikman, who does wonderful on camera--I mean, he is a wonderful person in terms of calling a game, or somebody like Steve Young, who can still practice law, who kids look up to. I mean, these are their heroes, and if they can be part of an informational video that the NFL was trying to put together in 2009--I hope they do a better job this next year if we get these labor talks taken care of--it will reach those kids a lot better and, I think, have a better impact.
Posted on BrainLine October 24, 2011.

Produced by Noel Gunther, Ashley Gilleland, and Brain King, BrainLine.

About the author: David Hovda, PhD

David Hovda, PhD is the director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. He is past president of the National Neurotrauma Society and past president of the International Neurotrauma Society.  He has served as chair of study sections for the National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke.

David Hovda