Allowing children to play high impact sports including ice hockey, boxing, wrestling and football is child abuse, according to renowned doctor Bennet Omalu.
He said children can’t smoke, drink or skydive because of risks, but society allows them to put on helmet and be slapped around.
“If that is not child abuse, I don’t know what is,” he said.
Omalu, who will speak at the University of Nevada, Reno, is a forensic pathologist who discovered chronic brain injury in NFL players.
Omalu was played by actor Will Smith in the 2015 film “Concussion,” a movie about his life. The Nigerian-born doctor searched for answers after the examining the brain of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, who died in 2002.
He has examined the brains of other former NFL players and athletes, diagnosing most with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
His research and findings forced the NFL to address the dangers of head trauma caused, but he said there is no way to make the sport completely without risks.
Omalu said while NFL players are adults and have every right to participate in dangerous activities, allowing anyone under the age of 18 to participate is criminal.
“You are exposing that child to the risk of brain damage,” said Omalu. “It is a 100 percent risk exposure.”
He said research shows that even one concussion as a child increases the risk of dropping out of high school and future problems.
Omalu recently made national headlines when he said former football great O.J. Simpson is likely suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Simpson is in Nevada’s Lovelock Correctional Facility serving a 33 year sentence for robbery and kidnapping.
He said he believes many prisoners have a history of traumatic brain injuries.
He said he would love to someday examine Simpson’s head.
Omalu will speak at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 25 in the Joe Crowley Student Union as part of UNR Medical School’s speaker series. It is free and open to the public.
To register: www.unr.edu/nevada-today/news/2016/healthy-nevada-speaker-series
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