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Concussion Panel Talks Bluntly About Head Trauma

Are your kids playing football, lacrosse or soccer this season, and are you worried about concussions as a result? So is Dorsey Levens , former Green Bay Packer and producer of the upcoming documentary "Bell Rung: An Alarming Portrait of Professional Football," which looks at concussions among NFL players.

Levens will join a panel at Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y., which is hosting its first-ever Concussion & Traumatic Brain Injury Town Hall, bringing together student athletes, coaches, parents and members of its Traumatic Brain Injury Team. The town hall will take place Tuesday, Sept. 20, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Blythedale Children's Hospital, 95 Bradhurst Ave., Valhalla.

Concussions can cause damage to the soft tissue of the brain, and children's brains are even more susceptible to traumatic brain injuries because their heads are disproportionally large compared with the rest of their bodies.

Concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) caused by blows to the head or body are common among young athletes, especially those playing contact sports. About 1 million children each year suffer concussions, according to the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities , and more than 30,000 incur long-term disabilities as a result of traumatic brain injuries.

And with both professional and scholastic football season in full swing throughout the country, TBI is now taking center stage.

Prevention is key, says Dr. Chris Rackley, a pediatric neuropsychologist at Blythedale Children's Hospital. Prompt recognition of a concussion or brain injury by parents, teammates, coaches, school nurses and/or physicians is essential in preventing a more serious brain injury, he says.

"Concussions are often not recognized for a variety of reasons, especially in children and adolescents. As our understanding of the causes and consequences of concussions increases, we can better manage and treat these injuries," says Rackley. "The Concussion Town Hall Meeting at Blythedale Children's Hospital aims to provide education regarding what a concussion is and what parents, coaches, school personnel and the youths themselves can do to identify and manage this condition."

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