Concussion: More than ‘getting your bell rung’

This common brain injury can cause serious — and lasting — damage

By Alison Pearce Stevens, 15:34 PM February 20, 2013

Scientists are studying the brain and helmets to better understand and prevent concussions. Researchers at Virginia Tech use this device to test how well helmets protect heads. Credit: Courtesy of Steven Rowson

Just before his twelfth birthday, Jake Hoetmer climbed onto a sled with a friend. They sped down Hoetmer’s driveway — a popular sledding hill in his Oakton, Va., neighborhood. But they lost control. The sled careened off the drive, straight into a tree. If you ask Hoetmer about the event, he won’t be able to fill in details. He simply doesn’t remember it.

In Houston, Texas, 14-year-old Matthew Hall ran a kickoff drill in football practice. An opposing player sent him flying backward. As H...

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