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PBS NewsHour

Obama stresses ‘facts, not fear’ in America’s Ebola response

         Director Tom Frieden listens via videoconference as U.S. President Barack Obama holds a meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating
         the government's Ebola response, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama met with cabinet agencies and the CDC’s Director Tom Frieden via videoconference to coordinate the government’s Ebola response on Oct. 15. In his weekly address Saturday, Obama stressed that science, not fear, must guide the country’s response to Ebola. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says the U.S. must be guided by science – not fear – as it responds to Ebola.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says he was proud to give Texas nurse Nina Pham a hug in the Oval Office after she was cured of Ebola. He says the other nurse who contracted Ebola is also improving.

Obama is praising New York’s quick reaction to its first Ebola case. He says he’s promised local officials any federal help they need.

Obama is reminding Americans they can’t contract Ebola unless they come into direct contact with a patient’s bodily fluids.

The president says the U.S. can beat the disease if it remains vigilant. He says the best way to stop it is at its source in West Africa.

The post Obama stresses ‘facts, not fear’ in America’s Ebola response appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Q&A: Should soccer players wear helmets? Top neurosurgeon weighs in on concussion risks


Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the nation’s top experts on youth concussions says collisions and hard falls sustained during soccer games are problematic because kids’ brains are still developing. Credit: NewsHour

One of the nation’s leading experts on concussions in youth sports, Dr. Robert Cantu, chief of neurosurgery at Emerson Hospital and co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, has teamed up with World Cup champion Brandi Chastain to advocate the end of headers in youth soccer for kids aged 14 and under.

While Cantu acknowledges the science connecting soccer with brain injury is limited, he still thinks it’s a smart idea to get heading out of the youth game. NewsHour’s William Brangham spoke with Dr. Cantu recently for a report about the growing concern over concussions in youth soccer.

This Q&A has been edited for space and clarity.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A lot of parents I’ve talked to have said, “We understand the concussion risks with football. But soccer is not football. It’s not hockey. It’s not boxing. This is a relatively safe sport. It’s hugely popular. Kids love playing it, and this is an overwrought concern.” What your response to that?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Well, they don’t know the statistics. The statistics are that, yes, football has more concussion than does soccer. But soccer kinda falls right behind it. And girls’ soccer is ahead of boys’ soccer.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In the number of concussions?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: In the number of concussions that are recognized.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: More broadly, what do we know about the connection between brain injury and soccer?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: There are a number of studies that show that just from the act of heading the ball, if you do enough of it, there can be structural changes seen. … In this one particular study that’s most cited by a Dr. Lipton in Radiology, it was 885 times a year and higher that they saw these changes.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: 885 headers per year.

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Headers per year. And if you got up to 1,800 headers, then you started to see cognitive problems in people. There have been retrospective studies that looked at people that played soccer over a long period of time, and have found as compared with people that were not into collision sports, that the soccer players didn’t fare as well.

All of those studies suffer in that they’re retrospective, looking back, and you can always say, “Well, maybe they got their trauma because of lifestyle pursuits or their brain abnormalities because of injury that maybe even happened off the soccer field.”

So, perfect prospective studies are in place. A few of them have been done. And what they have shown is that soccer players’ brains, compared with swimmers, in one case, show greater brain atrophy and abnormality diffusion tensor imaging MRI studies.

So, clearly, there has been structural changes that have been shown as a result of repetitively heading the ball at a very high level of heading. Other studies have shown that there have also been metabolic aberrations, meaning functional MRIs have shown the changes in terms of metabolic activity with individuals that have taken a lot of hits to the head over the course of a given year, even though those hits didn’t result in any recognized concussions. Whether they were unrecognized concussions or not, that’s open to question, but at least none were recognized.


Credit: NewsHour

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You mean, not having a concussion — where you get dizzy, maybe black out a bit. You’re talking about [headers] that might occur a few times in the course of a game, but not feel like they’re causing an injury?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Absolutely. And in the course of a practice. Hits to the head, accelerations to the head that aren’t immediately joined up with symptoms where you’d be aware that you had a concussion.

In the last year alone, there have been 13 studies that I’m aware of — there might be more– that have shown that sub-concussive hits in sports that take a lotta brain trauma, like soccer in some cases, football in other cases, have shown abnormalities on DTI MRI, have shown abnormalities on functional MRIs … and also breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. … And that’s happened without recognized concussion, just from repetitive trauma. And they found the individuals with the highest degree of abnormalities were those individuals that took the highest number of hits over the course of a season.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is there a difference when we’re talking about the younger brain versus an adult brain? Is this a particular concern when you’re talking about young kids versus older players?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Yes, I think it’s a huge concern. And there’s a very big difference between the young brain and the adult brain. Some of the key distinctions are that the young brain is largely not myelinated. Myelin is the coating of nerve fibers that connect nerve cells, similar to coating on a telephone wire, it helps transmission but it also gives strength. And so when you violently shake the young brain, you have a much greater chance to disrupt nerve fibers and their connections than you do an adult brain. A young brain is housed in a disproportionately big head. Ninety percent of our head’s circumference has been achieved by the age of five, but our neck strength and size is very small compared to where it will be as an adult.

So, you’ve got a bobblehead doll effect with our youngsters, so that the very minimal impact is now gonna set their brain in much more motion than it would in an adult brain with a strong neck.

Youngsters also, particularly between the ages of ten and 12, are going through what we refer to as connectivity and pruning of connections of nerve fibers. And the nerve fiber tracks that are going to make up our adult intellect and our adult emotional makeup are largely being fine-tuned during that two-year period. And injuries that occur to the brain during those two-year periods may result in somebody not reaching their maximal intellectual state or the stability emotionally that they otherwise were genetically programmed to reach because of brain injury.

So, youngsters have a number of things going on where their developing brain—that make them not only more prone to injury but slower to recover from injury and have a greater chance for long-lasting effect.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, do these effects go away? If you stopped playing, can you, in effect, heal?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Well, that’s where I’ve got a great advantage over a researcher working at– in– in a laboratory or working at a tertiary institution. I’ve got 45 years of having followed youngsters playing sports, youngsters having brain injuries. And I’ve seen a number of youngsters. The overwhelming majority completely recover as best I can measure it from most of the concussions that I have seen over the course of my career. Because I see a lot of post-concussion syndrome, though, I’ve seen a lot of youngsters also who’ve had life-altering changes because of brain injuries sustained from repetitive concussions.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Life-altering?

Life-altering. Meaning by that, that although they eventually were able to go further with their education, and in most cases go on to college, they’re no longer the same personality in many cases. And many of them are having to work far harder and achieve results not as successful as they were achieving at a younger age, which– with much less effort.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Why is it that some players, some young athletes can have a certain number of headers or concussions and come through it seemingly unscathed, and others don’t? Why is that? Is there some protective mechanism that some people have and others don’t?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: William, that’s the $64,000 question we’re all studying. Why do some people recover– the overwhelming majority recover from concussions and others go on to post-concussion syndrome? And why do a certain group of people subjected to the same degree of head trauma as somebody else go on to have a later-life neurodegenerative disease that we call chronic traumatic encephalopathy?

There’s no question that most of us feel there are genetic factors. And there are probably environmental factors as well. We don’t know the answers to just what they are today. … But there’s no question that somebody– some people seem genetically programmed to develop problems with the same degree of head trauma as somebody else can have that head trauma and not develop those problems.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But as a parent, as a coach, as a kid themselves, there’s no way of knowing if you’re that person or not.

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Right now today, there’s no way of knowing. We don’t know what the genetic makeup is that is putting these people at risk. What we do know, though, is something that I think everybody knows intuitively without a researcher or a scientist or a doctor telling them, and that is, to get hit in the head is not a great thing if you can avoid it.

Let’s not get paranoid about it. We’re all gonna hit our heads. We’ve got a marvelous protection system going between the scalp, the skull, the cerebral spinal fluid in the brain inside the water bath.

But if I were to sit here and hit you as hard as I could with a pillow, that’s about what your sustaining with heading soccer balls, especially from close contact. And I’d be charged with child abuse if I whacked my child 20 times with a pillow as hard as I could. And yet, that’s pretty common stuff over the course of a number of soccer games at the youth level.

So, I think we need to look at our sports and examine them and say, “How can we still play them?” Lord knows, I want everybody to be playing sports. I want sports to be played by more people than are playing them now. If we’re not playing sports as a kid, we’re probably not gonna be very active as an adult. And that has huge health consequences as well as emotional issues. So, we need kids playing sports. But I think we need them playing sports safer. And at certain ages, the sport can be altered to make it safer. Take the most injurious activity for head injury out of it, but let the rest of the sport go on. And that’s playing soccer without heading.

It’s playing flag football at the very early ages instead of tackle football. These things can be done and the sports can still be played. And the interesting thing is, when I talk with a Brandi Chastain or I talk with other elite world-class athletes that have played this sport at the highest level, they tell me, now that they’re soccer moms and soccer coaches- they tell me the kids play better soccer at the early ages if they don’t try to head the ball. Take the ball off the chest, the thigh or the leg, because they can control it better than they can with their heads at that age. So, they actually function better. And, of course, they function much more safely.

Because in the act of heading, that’s when accidentally heads collide with other heads, heads collide with other body parts — elbows, shoulder, a wrist– and that’s when concussions happen. So that the risk in heading the ball isn’t just the heading the ball properly. It’s the risk of getting a concussion as well.


Credit: NewsHour

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I know one mom in particular who’s interested in trying to do what are called “baseline evaluations” of players ahead of time. Can you explain what the concept behind that is and why that might be useful?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Yes. At all levels, baseline evaluation is very, very important. And what you’re really wanting to do is have the baseline evaluation be whatever is going to be the assessment that the individual will have if they’re suspected of having a head injury, if they’re suspected of having a concussion.

And what we do know is there’s no single test that’s uniformly accurate in diagnosing concussion except in the minority of cases where somebody’s unconscious. If somebody’s rendered unconscious, you know they’ve had a concussion. That happens less than 10% of the time. The other 90% of the time, it’s having one or more of the 26 post-concussion symptoms that we look for.

And here, it’s very important to have baseline balance evaluation, because you’re gonna use balance in evaluating after–

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Testing their ability to stand upright under certain circumstances.

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Yes. We normally use standing with two feet together, eyes open, eyes closed, one foot, heel toe, in front of the other– so-called “tandem stance,” eyes open, eyes closed. And then single leg stance– eyes open, eyes closed.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, you test them when they have not been injured to get a baseline, and then if they are suspected of having something later, you test them again to see if there’s a difference.

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Yes. And you wanna test them for their baseline at a resting state, not exerted, so it’s optimal conditions. Yes, you want to know whether, when you’re seeing someone and they’re making errors now, “Is this really reflecting a change from their baseline?”

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: –or were they always this way?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: –or were they always that way?” And that’s exactly the case.


Credit: NewsHour

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Do you worry that by focusing on the injury-causing potential of kid’s sports you’ll actually scare kids and parents away?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: I want parents to not for a second think about not having their kids play sports. It’s vital that they play sports. Now what sports they play and how they play those sports, we can have a discussion about that perhaps. But definitely kids need to be in sports. And those that are playing contact/collision sports hopefully are gonna be playing them under coaches that are gonna teach the proper technique and under coaches that are gonna minimize the full contact aspects of practice and be teaching skill drills whenever possible.

We can greatly eliminate the chance for concussion and drastically reduce the amount of subconcussive trauma by just reducing the way we practice sports, taking the full collision practices and holding them to a bare minimum.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, since you’re a father — let’s say you were today a father of young kids, would you encourage them to play soccer, wholeheartedly?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: I would wholeheartedly want my children playing soccer. If they were young, if they were under the age of 14, I would ask them to not head the ball and make a little pact with the coach. And that probably would preclude what positions they played on the soccer team somewhat, but I would want them playing soccer full-bore.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But you would like leagues around the country to universally say, “We’re gonna take heading out of the game for young kids.”

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Yes, I would. Because it would greatly reduce the head trauma these youngsters are subjected to, number one. And number two– taking the lead from the Brandi Chastains and the Cindy Parlows and the Joy Fawcetts of the soccer world, it would, in their opinion, enhance teaching of soccer skills, the foot skills that are the hallmark of the sport and the awareness skills of where you are on the field — that are equally as important. And they believe that it would not hurt the product by the time one got in– in– high school. If you wanted to work on some heading drills at an earlier age, head with a much lighter ball, a beach ball or a lighter soccer ball.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And so your scientific opinion is that once the children get into the late teen years, once they get into high school, that they can then physiologically, safely head the ball in soccer.

DR. ROBERT CANTU: More safely. Yes. We don’t know that if you’re heading it an excessive amount of time, even at the high school level, that there are not some issues to be concerned about. … But it’s certainly much safer than it is at younger ages.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Does strengthening the neck help protect the head?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: We’ve had, for years, the belief that neck strength reduces your chance of having a concussion — if you see the hit coming. And it’s based on several practical things. One is in a study of NFL players that were in the open field.

The person that didn’t see the hit coming was concussed every time there was a concussion. The hitter never was. And yet if you take two people, each of whom see the hit coming, you can’t predict who’s gonna have a concussion, if there is a concussion. And it was because the person didn’t see the hit coming, their neck was relaxed.

And then in the last six months there’s been a publication by Cindy Collins and Dawn Comstock that looked at the incidence of concussion compared with neck strength in high school athletes, across sports. And it was found across sports that those with the stronger necks had fewer concussions. Those with the weakest necks had the highest incidence

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What about helmets? What about the soccer helmets? Do those offer any protection?

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Soccer helmets offer protection from scalp lacerations and scalp hematomas. They don’t offer protection from concussion. Unfortunately, even football helmets do little to– protect against concussion.

And the reason is, that although helmets do a fabulous job preventing and reducing linear forces over a very small focal area, they don’t do much for the rotational forces. And that’s what you wind up with primarily when two heads collide. And when a head with a rigid neck and a big body collides with another head, it’s gonna move it quickly.

And that movement very quickly is what sets up the rotational forces inside the brain that result in a concussion.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, you think soccer could make this adaptation — take heading out of the kid’s game — and the game that so many kids and parents love will not be grievously changed.

DR. ROBERT CANTU: I hope it becomes even more popular. Because if you took heading out of soccer, it wouldn’t be behind football in the incidence of concussion. It wouldn’t even be in the high-risk group. It would be in a low-risk group. It’s not gonna mean that every concussion’s gonna come out of it. No. You can get a concussion in any sport.

But it would no longer be in the high-risk group if you took that one act out of it. And you can still play the sport at the youth level at a higher level if you don’t try the heading.

The post Q&A: Should soccer players wear helmets? Top neurosurgeon weighs in on concussion risks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Is soccer safe for kids? Amid concussion fears, a parent searches for answers


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WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Dr. Richard Flyer has been my family’s pediatrician for thirteen years, and to be totally honest: I love the guy. I admire him and I trust him. But three years ago — when my son, Jack was ten — Flyer said something that floored us. He told Jack he wanted him to stop playing soccer, completely.

Flyer argued that the dozens and dozens of kids he’d seen with serious, sometimes life-altering concussions – some of them from heading the ball — had convinced him that soccer itself was not safe.

DR. RICHARD FLYER: We need to look at these sports realistically and say, “Are they really something we want our children to do?” Do we want to, in the name of sport, put a child’s brain in harm’s way?

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Flyer’s warning got me and my wife Tory to take a long, uncomfortable look at whether the sport our three kids love is safe. The benefits they get out of the game? Those are obvious, but are they worth the risks of serious injury? For the last few years, we’ve been struggling with a dilemma that’s facing really millions of parents across the country.

TORY BRANGHAM: I just feel really confused and worried and just unsure what we’re supposed to do now.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s important to say that we became a soccer family partly by design. Our three kids are Jack, who’s 13, Gavin is 11, and Ally is nine. When they were little, they all tried a lot of different sports, but when it came time to officially join a team, we really steered them to soccer, which we thought was a ‘safe’ sport, compared to something like football.

NFL ANNOUNCER: Lot of Dolphins sidelined today, including Donald Brown out with a concussion.

TORY BRANGHAM: I think I knew enough and this is now ten years ago to know that football wasn’t really an option for our kids.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Because it wasn’t safe.

TORY BRANGHAM: Because it was considered unsafe.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Then in 2008, that idea was driven home by an awful tragedy in our town. A 16 year-old football player at Montclair high school, Ryne Dougherty, died from a brain hemorrhage he got tackling during a game.

Three weeks before — he’d had another hard hit and a concussion. The whole town was really shaken up by his death. Did we console ourselves, thinking, well, that couldn’t happen to our kids? I don’t know. Maybe. But we kept signing the kids up — and they were playing – and loving – soccer.

ALLY BRANGHAM: I really like playing– how there are positions, cause there’s, like, a special thing that you have to do when you’re doing it so you feel like you’re an important part of it.

GAVIN BRANGHAM: You get to move around a lot, and you have to be a good team, not just composed of good players.

JACK BRANGHAM: Soccer is just the best sport there is. Period.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That said, I can’t pretend that Dr. Flyer’s warnings weren’t always somewhere in the back of our minds. In 2012, one of jack’s soccer mates, a boy named nick graham, went up for a header, fell to the ground, and suffered such a severe concussion that his headaches and dizziness didn’t get better for months. Nick left the team and hasn’t played since.

Within the last year, at least three of his teammates have suffered concussions. Did that make us think about taking jack or any of our kids out of soccer? Honestly, no. Seeing them learn the value of hard work and dedication, how to handle the successes and the failures, it all seemed worth it to us.

TORY BRANGHAM: In this day and age, there’s so many warnings — parental warnings. It’s not safe to walk to school, it’s not safe to drink that drink, it’s not safe to look at that screen. There’s so many “No’s.” And quite frankly some of the things in life that are the most fun and are most rewarding have some risk involved.

And I’m not encouraging my kids to skydive or to cliff jump. What I’m saying is soccer is fun and it’s thrilling and it’s exciting.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And it gives them so much.

TORY BRANGHAM: And it gives them a lot of pleasure. So I wasn’t prepared to take that away from them.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But then, during the 2014 world cup, which we loved, but also where we saw some of those really brutal blows to the head, I read this story about a movement to take heading out of kid’s soccer because of concern over concussions.

I raised this question with a friend who’s spent his entire life around the game. Declan Carney was born in Ireland. He manages my son Jack’s team and our sons have played together for several years.

DECLAN CARNEY: There’s no question that concussions need to be dealt with and need to be taken very seriously whenever they happen.

But if soccer, heading a soccer ball was actually a real danger of some sort of brain injury, I think it would’ve exhibited itself somewhere in medical history in Europe or in South America or in Asia, where people play soccer pretty much all their life and have done for the last 80, 100 years.

And I don’t think the science says it’s there.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I checked, and Declan is right: there aren’t any large-scale, long term studies connecting soccer to brain injury among the millions of soccer players in Europe or South America or Asia.

But that article I read cited one small American study showing that adult amateur soccer players who headed the ball a lot – between about 900 and 1,500 times a year — showed abnormalities in their brains — represented here by the red and yellow sections. These are effects similar to what you’d see in concussions

But many of these players said they hadn’t had concussions. The suggestion being that brain trauma might be occurring from a lot of heading without obvious symptoms. Keep in mind, 900 to 1500 headers is far more than any kid I know ever heads the ball, even with regular practice.

But that article also quoted this man — Dr. Robert Cantu — he’s a neurosurgeon, co-directs a brain study center at Boston University, and is one of the nation’s top experts on youth concussions.

Cantu acknowledges the science connecting soccer with brain injury is limited. He’s in fact called for much more research, but even so he thinks it’s better to be safe than sorry and not allow young kids to head the ball.

DR. ROBERT CANTU: If you took heading out of soccer, it wouldn’t be behind football in the incidence of concussion. It wouldn’t even be in the high-risk group. It would be in a low-risk group.

Cantu told me that heading the ball as well as the collisions and hard falls to the ground that often accompany them are problematic for kids because unlike adult brains kid’s brains are still developing.

DR. ROBERT CANTU: The young brain is largely not myelinated. Myelin is the coating of nerve fibers that connect nerve cells, similar to coating on a telephone wire, it helps transmission but it also gives strength. And so when you violently shake the young brain, you have a much greater chance to disrupt nerve fibers and their connections than you do an adult brain.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And there’s this: a kid’s head sits on a less developed neck and torso than an adult’s. So the same blow might cause more damage to a kid than a grownup.

DR. ROBERT CANTU: So, you’ve got a bobble head doll effect with our youngsters, so that the very minimal impact is now gonna set their brain in much more motion than it would an adult brain with a strong neck.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Cantu says strengthening kid’s neck muscles can help, but those soccer helmets and headgear don’t really offer much protection, so he says there’s only one thing left to do.

DR. ROBERT CANTU: Take the most injurious activity for head injury out of it, but let the rest of the sport go on. And that’s playing soccer without heading.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Some others who know far more about the game than I do are listening to Cantu. One of whom you might recognize. Brandi Chastain’s dramatic penalty shot against China won the 1999 World Cup for the U.S. She also helped win gold for the U.S at two different Olympics.

She now lives in northern California with her husband and her 8 year-old son Jaden. She coaches his team, and helps coach a Division 1 team at Santa Clara University. She, along with several of her former teammates from the U.S. National team, have joined forces with Dr. Cantu’s organization.

BRANDI CHASTAIN: We don’t need to have heading in youth soccer, 14 and under.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The interesting thing is just a few years ago Chastain was on NBC saying that heading was safe for kids, as long as they were trained correctly.

BRANDI CHASTAIN: [NBC News clip] It’s a part of the game, it’s an important part, and it’s a beautiful part of the game.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At the time, were saying, “I think that it can be taught to kids, and it should stay in the game for kids.” Now you think differently. I wonder what was it in particular that changed your mind?

BRANDI CHASTAIN: I think it was hearing the information that Dr. Cantu was putting out. The more I started hearing about it, and the more research that has come out, I just thought, you know, I have to protect them, and this doesn’t need to exist at this young age.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Chastain admitted that so far — their campaign really hasn’t taken off. Just a handful of programs have removed heading. She says the lead really has to come from the top, from the international governing body of soccer, FIFA and the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Those organizations are currently being sued by a group of soccer parents in California who say the groups haven’t done enough to protect kids from head injury.

We reached out to FIFA and to the U.S. Soccer Federation for comment. While neither would go on the record, citing the litigation, they both said that player safety is a priority. And the Federation indicated heading and concussions are among the topics regularly reviewed by its policy makers.

Back in New Jersey, the soccer season goes on. We see a fair amount of heading, especially in my older son’s games. The boys take hard ones, soft ones. They score goals with them.

Our soccer club, Montclair United, says it’s very concerned about concussions and trains our coaches thoroughly but they say they don’t make the rules, and so heading remains a part of our game.

And quite frankly, there’s a lot of doubt on a lot of people’s minds that heading is a problem at all.

DECLAN CARNEY: I have a 13 year old son that I wanna protect as much as anybody wants to protect their son. But I will let my son head a ball because I see no evidence whatsoever that there is a danger for anybody in youth soccer playing, heading a ball.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But then our pediatrician, Dr. Flyer says taking heading out doesn’t go far enough in his opinion. He says what he’s sees in his own patients is evidence enough that the sport isn’t safe for kids.

DR. RICHARD FLYER: We had this 30-year experiment. The results are coming in. It’s not safe for children to do this. It’s a contact sport. That and, you know, that’s also a euphemism. It’s a brain-injuring sport. And if I don’t get this information across, even the risk of upsetting people, I’ve failed.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So where does all this leave us? My wife and kids and I still get up every Saturday and Sunday and get ready for another long weekend of soccer.

But full disclosure: after all the interviews I’ve done tory and I recently told our kids not to head the ball anymore. So far, it’s not been an issue in their games or with their coaches.

Even so, when we go out there and cheer them on… our pediatrician’s voice is still in the back of our minds.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Do you feel like we’re doing the right thing by letting them play?

TORY BRANGHAM: We are sort of punting the ball down the field and avoiding a decision. Which in and of itself is a decision. Our decision is that we’ve let our kids continue to play soccer.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And are you okay with that?

TORY BRANGHAM: Well, you know, I sort of just sit there secretly hoping at the end of every game that they walk off the field in one piece. I just want them to be whole.

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Officials try to ease worries about NYC’s first Ebola case


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JUDY WOODRUFF: The governors of New York and New Jersey announced today that all travelers coming from Ebola-affected countries will face a new mandatory quarantine when they arrive at airports in those two states.

Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie said the existing federal standards were not enough. It came just hours after New York City officials tried to tamp down concerns over that city’s first Ebola case.

Hari Sreenivasan has the story from New York.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, New York: We have the finest public health system not only anywhere in this country, but anywhere in the world. Its a public health system that has been developed over decades. It is ready for extraordinary challenges, and it’s proving it as we speak.

HARI SREENIVASAN: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to reassure citizens this afternoon, a day after Dr. Craig Spencer was diagnosed with the Ebola virus and his fiancee and two friends were placed in quarantine.

Spencer, isolated and in stable condition at a New York hospital, had recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea. But city health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said the 33-year- old was symptom-free during his travels.

DR. MARY TRAVIS BASSETT, Commissioner, New York City Health Department:  So, he was feeling well, had no fever at the time that he left Guinea, which was on the 14th. He continued to feel well with his onward travel from Europe to the United States, where he arrived at JFK on the 17th. And he continued to check his temperature daily.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Officials said Spencer visited the High Line Park, a coffee shop and restaurant in Manhattan on Tuesday as fatigue symptoms appeared. On Wednesday, he went running and rode the subway to a bowling alley in Brooklyn.

It was at his apartment Thursday morning that Spencer reported having a 100.3 degree fever, and emergency workers moved him to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. Health officials are now retracing Spencer’s steps in the days leading up to his hospital admission. They have cleared the bowling alley and the coffee shop, and maintain that the odds of virus transmission in public spaces remains very low.

Meanwhile, doctors declared Nina Pham, one of two nurses who contracted the disease while treating Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, free of the virus today. She was released from the National Institutes of Health this morning.

NINA PHAM, Ebola Survivor: I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today. I first and foremost would like to thank God, my family, and friends. Throughout this ordeal, I have put my trust in God and my medical team. I’m on my way back to recovery, even as I reflect on how many others have not been so fortunate.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Pham later met with President Obama at the Oval Office. Her release is the latest in a series of recoveries by Americans who have contracted the disease. Pham colleague and fellow nurse Amber Vinson, NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, and three missionary workers, Dr. Kent Brantly, Nancy Writebol, and Dr. Rick Sacra have all been declared Ebola-free after receiving treatment at U.S. facilities.

Still, on Capitol Hill today, National Nurses United co-president Deborah Burger said the Ebola response from U.S. hospitals and governmental agencies has been inconsistent.

DEBORAH BURGER, Co-President, National Nurses United: Eighty-five percent of the nurses say they are not adequately trained. Give us the tools we need. All we ask from President Obama and Congress is not one more infected nurse.

HARI SREENIVASAN: But John Roth, an inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, said an audit of previous DHS pandemic preparedness revealed questionable spending practices.

JOHN ROTH, Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security: We found that DHS has a stockpile of about 350,000 white coverall suits and 16 million surgical masks, but hasn’t been able to demonstrate how either fits into their pandemic preparedness plans.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, in Switzerland, the World Health Organization announced plans to ramp up development of Ebola vaccines.

WHO assistant director-general of health systems and innovation Marie-Paule Kieny:

MARIE-PAULE KIENY, Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, World Health Organization: All is put in place by all partners to start efficacy trials in affected countries in December, as early as in December 2014. Of course, the protocols will be adapted to take into consideration safety and immunogenicity results of the phase one trial as they become available.

HARI SREENIVASAN: They said hundreds of thousands of doses could be ready for use in West Africa by the middle of next year. The WHO also announced it was sending experts to Mali, where a 2-year-old girl has died with Ebola, the first known case in that country; 43 others are being monitored for symptoms.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The World Health Organization said today there are already more than 9,900 cases of Ebola in Africa during this outbreak and close to 4,900 deaths. Nine cases of Ebola have been seen in the United States since the beginning of August. Only Thomas Eric Duncan, the man from Liberia, died.

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