NFL concussion settlement impacts local youngsters - FOX 32 News Chicago

NFL concussion settlement impacts local youngsters

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The NFL has reached an unprecedented settlement with players over concussions.

The league will pay $765 million to settle lawsuits from former players who say they suffered permanent brain damage from hits on NFL fields.

In all, as many 20,000 former players and their families could be getting payments. The plaintiffs include former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon.

The settlement also states that $10 million will be spent on concussion research.

So what does the settlement mean for young players hoping to make it in the NFL?

At Lane Tech on Thursday, the varsity squad was tuning up for its opening game Friday night.

But perhaps the most important page in the playbook has nothing to do with X's and O's. It's the form the players receive about what to do if they get hit.

"Our kids are well-versed ahead of time what a concussion is, some of the signs and symptoms of a concussion. They fill out a pledge form that states they'll visit the athletic trainer or a doctor if they feel the signs and symptoms of a concussion," said Brian Hofman, Lane Tech athletic director.

The Illinois High School Athletic Association has some of the toughest rules on concussion prevention in the country which is why Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has sponsored a bill making it a national standard.

"These are young people, and not always at the right level of maturity and judgment. So we have to help them make the right decision. We don't want them to be jeopardized," Durbin said.

Dr. Jeff Mjaanes, who heads the Chicago Sports Concussion Clinic at Rush Hospital, says concussions in young people shouldn't be taken lightly.

"The brain is a very sensitive organ. It has to last your whole life. We have to make sure it lasts the whole life of these kids," said. Dr. Mjaane.

He says the $10 million from the NFL settlement will help fund important research such as scans that will allow doctors to actually "see" a concussion.

"Right now there are tests we are using, but only in the research setting, that are looking at things like the blood flow in the brain, oxygen use in the brain, things like that to try to pinpoint areas that might be damaged into concussion," said Dr. Mjaanes.

Among those who will be receiving money from the NFL settlement include the family of the late, great Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who committed suicide in 2011.

Doctors later determined Duerson suffered from a neurodegenerative disease linked to concussions.

"What it does represent is an acknowledgement that there were some grave, grave mistakes made throughout the years at the NFL level. And it's hopeful to all of us that now those mistakes will be rectified," said Bill Gibbs, the Duerson family attorney.

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