DENVER -- New data is revealing how dangerous concussions can be for young athletes.
Concussions are such a concern the NFL is now committing $100 million to improve technology and medical research.
Football is a way of life for Joseph Lawrence.
“I want to be a part of something special. I want to be a part of this family. Football has always been there for me,” said Lawrence.
He started playing football 10 years ago and has experienced all of football’s joys, but also one of its big dangers.
“I had a concussion in a game and I didn’t really realize what it was, but I was feeling a little weird,” said Lawrence.
Lawrence shook it off and kept playing, but days later, he couldn’t get out of bed because the room was spinning.
A lot of people don’t realize they have a concussion until it’s too late.
Many athletes attempt to play through it, but new data shows how dangerous that can be.
“We’re learning that if concussions aren’t treated properly, you can have very serious consequences. You can have long-term effects. You can have cumulative brain damage. You can have loss of your ability to learn,” said Dr. Sue Kirelik.
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children brought concussion simulating goggles to practice so Joseph and his Smoky Hill High teammates could experience those symptoms, so injuries can be recognized and treated early.
Dr. Kirelik says coaches are key in monitoring athletes.
“Unfortunately I still see almost every day in my clinic a kid that was sent back in to play even though he had symptoms. So there’s still coaches out there who don’t quite get it,” said Dr. Kirelik.
Now that Joseph gets it, he knows how important it is to checks on his teammates.
“It’s an incredible sport, but it’s never that serious to lose your life,” said Lawrence.
Right now there are no tests that can reveal a concussion and they don't show up on a CAT scan.
Doctors diagnose this based on a detailed exam of the symptoms, so that’s why they believe it’s so important to educate athletes about what those symptoms actually are.