Study reveals that younger football players share CTE concerns already seen with professionals

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The long-term effects of football-based concussions aren't merely for the professionals anymore.

On Tuesday morning, the Journal of the American Medical Association updated its study on football players and concussions. The study says over 200 brains from former players were tested, and nearly 88 percent of them contained the brain disease CTE, which comes from concussions, according to the medical community. Unlike the AMA's past findings, this updated study also included 53 college and 13 high school players. Forty-eight of the collegiate players and three high school-only players showed signs of the brain ailment.

"We know so little about CTE and how you get there," Dr. Michael Rippee, a neurologist with the University of Kansas Health System, said on Tuesday.

Dr. Rippee, who has worked as a neurologist for 10 years, leads the hospital's concussion center. He applauds the football community, where safety devices and safer teaching methods are being used to limit impact to the head.

"We know you're going to get exposure during a game. How do we limit that during the offseason and practices and maybe eliminating tackling altogether, or doing what can do reduce that," Dr. Rippee said.

It's the inclusion of younger players that grabs the doctor's attention. Previous versions of the AMA report didn't include college or prep players.

"I think it causes some concern and thinking about the long-term brain health for any athlete. Not just football athletes," Dr. Rippee said.

FOX 4 News has followed the AMA's findings since the start. Doctors advise parents to seek medical help if their children show sudden changes after suffering head trauma.

Few people know high school football the way Fred Bouchard does. Nowadays, he's the district athletic director with North Kansas City Schools. In a past life, he was head coach at two metro high schools, including his eight-year run at Staley High School, where he won a Missouri Class 5 State Championship in 2011. This August, Bouchard will help North Kansas City Schools re-establish its middle school football program, which has been defunct for close to 40 years.

"If we're bringing this in, let's make sure we're practicing 2017 habits and doing the kind of things we know is smart in how we care for our students," Bouchard told FOX 4 News.

Dr. Rippie young athletes and their families to take safety precautions, but also to not instantly panic over the findings of this study. He believes case-by-case examination should be done on those high school athletes to understand how they came up with CTE in the first place.

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