According to the Brain Injury Research Institute, in any given season, 20 percent of high school players sustain brain injuries. More than 40.5 percent of high school athletes who have suffered concussions return to action prematurely, which can lead to death from Second Impact Syndrome, a condition in which the brain swells, shutting down the brain stem and resulting in respiratory failure.
It's not just concussions we're concerned about. Purdue University researchers recently compared changes in the brains of high school football players who had suffered concussions with the brains of players who were concussion-free and found brain tissue damage in both. That's scary stuff. That means brain injuries are occurring without players, coaches or parents being aware of it.
Repetitive subconcussive hits to the head can cause as much damage as concussion-causing hits. A growing focus in the brain trauma field is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain degeneration disease. It has many symptoms similar to Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases, however it isn't the result of some endogenous disease but due to brain injury — being hit too many times in the head.
Now consider that the average high school football lineman receives 1,000 to 1,500 shots to the head during a single football season, based on estimates by Boston University researchers.