90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Friday, October 28, 2011

Teen’s Fatal Brain Injury In Football Game Raises Questions

Ridge Barden, a 16-year-old lineman from John C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix, N.Y., died after he was hit during a high school football game Friday night, Oct. 14, 2011, in upstate New York. (AP/Barden Family)

Ridge Barden, a 16-year-old lineman from John C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix, N.Y., died after he was hit during a high school football game Friday night, Oct. 14, 2011, in upstate New York. (AP/Barden Family)

More than 125 former professional football players have filed a lawsuit against the National Football League and helmet-maker Riddell, claiming the NFL should do more to warn current players about the dangers of head injuries and help retired players who are suffering from them.

But what about teen athletes, whose undeveloped brains are even more at risk?

Schools have been responding with new testing and training procedures, and state lawmakers are passing new laws to protect student athletes. But that wasn’t enough to help 16-year-old high school defensive tackle Ridge Barden, who collapsed during a game earlier this month and died within hours from a brain bleed.

He was wearing a Riddell helmet and his coaches pored over every play Barden was in and couldn’t find a hard hit or tackle.

He showed no evidence of a previous concussion and he didn’t have a history of head trauma, though he did tell his coach he’d had a helmet-to-helmet hit during the game. Experts think he likely had had a previous concussion but didn’t know it, and then suffered from something called “second impact syndrome.”

According to the website sportsmd, second impact syndrome, or SIS, “occurs when an athlete returns to sport too early after suffering from an initial concussion. The athlete does not need to receive a strong second blow to the head to set the effects in motion. The athlete may receive only a minor blow to the head or a hit to the chest or back that snaps the head enough to have the brain rebound inside the skull.”

Dr. Donald Phykitt, director of sports medicine at the Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pennsylvania, says you can have a concussion without losing consciousness, and that symptoms of a brain injury sometimes aren’t picked up in a normal doctor’s exam or a CAT scan. Phykitt says often the best way to recover from a concussion is total rest.

Guest:

  • Dr. Donald Phykitt, director of sports medicine at the Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pennsylvania

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

November 20 3 Comments

The Man Behind ‘Mockingjay’

Francis Lawrence describes the rewards and challenges of bringing "The Hunger Games" books to the screen.

November 20 Comment

Iraq War Vet Wins National Book Award For Fiction

The judges described the short stories in Phil Klay's collection "Redeployment" as brutal, piercing and sometimes darkly funny.

November 19 11 Comments

New Film Revisits The Jerry Sandusky Sex Abuse Case

The Penn State assistant football coach will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, but that's not the end of the story.

November 19 222 Comments

Without Slavery, Would The U.S. Be The Leading Economic Power?

Edward Baptist argues in his new book that slavery was integral to establishing the America as a world economic power.