WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - On May 2, 2012, all-pro linebacker Junior Seau was found dead inside his beach front home with a gunshot wound to his chest.
Now, eight months later, concussion researchers said the degenerative brain disease discovered in Seau's brain was likely not due to a concussion, rather, by thousands of blows to the head.
Purdue Concussion Researcher Larry Leverenz said while he was surprised, others weren't.
"It really did surprise us, but yet, as we talked to neurosurgeons around the country and a few neurologists, some of the physicians on the sidelines said, 'No, I'm not surprised,'" said Leverenz.
Leverenz and his team of researchers have been examining the brains of high school football players for the last four years.
Their study shows that an average high school football player will receive up to 1,800 hits per season.
Some of those hits measure at a force as high as 250 Gs, which calculates to more than 200 pounds.
Leverenz said his group has developed a new helmet that helps reduce the impact on the brain by 50 percent, but it's a helmet Leverenz said costs a pretty penny.
"The system we use is running about $1,000 a helmet to put into practice," said Leverenz. "Certainly, there are not many individuals or schools out there that are able to do that."
Leverenz said while it might not be possible for schools or individuals to afford the helmets, there is something they can do: limit the number of blows to the head a player takes each season.
Leverenz said it's hard to pin down what a safe number of hits is, but estimates it's safe for a player to take between 60 to 80 blows to the head per week.
Yet, at the end of the day, Leverenz also understands, you can't change the game.
"We don't want to change the game," said Leverenz. "It's a good game, it's ingrained in our culture to the point that it's going to be difficult to just get rid of it."
Leverenz said what he and his team want to do is make it safer, and that's something he said, they'll be working around the clock to do.
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