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Saturday, October 18, 2008

He still had headaches: A brain injury during a football game

Ryne Dougherty, a high school football player in Montclair, New Jersey, died on Wednesday of a brain hemorrhage he got while making a tackle during a junior varsity football game.

He had sustained a concussion on September 18, and then doctors cleared him to return to play three weeks later, even though he had told a teammate that he still had headaches – showing he had not fully recovered from the concussion.

His high school uses the ImPACT neurological testing program, a computer-based protocol that helps determine whether an athlete has recovered from a concussion. A baseline is performed before the season to gauge short-term memory and other mental functioning. Then, after a concussion, the player takes the test again, and the results are compared to the player's baseline results.

However, they had not actually given Ryne the baseline test.

Ryne was the second player in New Jersey, and at least the fourth in the U.S., this season to die from a brain injury.

Advice to parents of high school football players: Insist on a baseline test of mental function before the season.

Read another football story.

Thanks to Michael Schmidt and Dave Caldwell for the source article in Friday's issue of the New York Times.

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