Concussions can lead to brain diseases; kids are at high risk

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SHELBYVILLE -- A new report found NFL players are at a higher risk of dying of brain diseases like Alzheimer's. But experts say the greatest group at risk is kids playing contact sports.

According to concussion expert Dustin Fink, the risk stems from hard hits taken on the field; those hard hits are more apparent these days in high school sports and among younger athletes.

Fink is an athletic trainer for Shelbyville High School, and has seen those injuries increase more over the past several years. He says kids are bigger these days, and play the game with more intensity now than ever before.

"Sports [like football] were created for the human being at the early turn of the century, when people were 5'10" and weighed 140 pounds," Fink said. "Sometimes those are fifth graders now."

He says kids playing younger means more exposure to brain trauma, which has been linked to CTE -- a brain disease that's killed several NFL players.

But withdrawing kids from contact sports altogether isn't necessary.

"It's a risk assessment by the parent," said Fink. "It's an individual decision. But at the same time, we need to also be safe."

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