ABILENE, Texas - Jack Abendschan was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame this year, but he said during the 15 years he played professional football he suffered numerous concussions that cost him later in life.
"I started getting concussions in high school, but you just think that's part of playing football. The farther I got, the harder they hit, the more often I got dinged," said Abendschan.
He now suffers from short term memory loss as the result of multiple concussions during his career.
Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Jennifer Johnson said Abendschan's injuries could have been much worse.
"If you've got a concussion and you go back in to play and take another hit and get a second concussion, the concern is for Second Impact Syndrome, which can actually be deadly."
Dr. Johnson held a Concussion Symposium for parents, coaches and athletes at Texas Sport and Spine in Abilene Thursday, to talk about concussion symptoms, risks and treatment. Dr. Johnson said research suggests helmets do not actually decrease the rate of concussions, they only lessen impact. She advises anyone who has prolonged loss of consciousness, neck pain, irregular breathing or severe headache after an impact to go directly to the hospital.
Texas Sport and Spine is the only place that offers imPACT testing in the big country, the same computerized concussion testing used in the NFL.
But Abendschan said for him, playing the game was worth the risk.
"If somebody told me, ‘you could have issues with concussions after you retire,' I would have just said, ‘I got to take that chance,' cause I love the game," said Abendschan.