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N.Y. Times, June 10, 2007 --
For several years, many medical experts have maintained that high school football players who sustain concussions should not return to the games in which they are injured. So when doctors commissioned by the National Football League published a study two years ago concluding “it might be safe” for such players to do so, the assertion sparked widespread criticism. Now the criticism is coming from authors of the paper itself.

Two of the five authors of the paper published in the journal Neurosurgery, Dr. Henry Feuer of the Indiana University Medical Center and Dr. Cynthia Arfken of Wayne State University, said in telephone interviews last week that the paper’s conclusion was inappropriate, and that the research should not be applied to high school and college players.

Arfken also said the passage had been added without her knowledge.

The two principal authors, Dr. David Viano of Wayne State and Dr. Ira Casson of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, acknowledged that they had altered the conclusion but said that all authors had received proof copies before publication. They said the section in question was added to appease peer reviewers who asked for a discussion of high school and college players, and they continued to stand by what was written.

Arfken and Feuer disavowed the paper’s recommendation that high school and college medical personnel “keep an open mind” about the paper’s analysis of concussions, which deemed safe the league’s record of allowing half of the players with concussions to return to the same game. Arfken and Feuer thereby joined critics who had long claimed that such a suggestion was dangerous for younger players. Their less-developed brain tissue is believed to be more susceptible to short- and long-term damage than adults’. They also receive considerably less medical attention than players in the N.F.L.

Feuer said that he “would change that sentence; I’d eliminate it.” Regarding high school players, he added: “It’s been shown that they don’t seem to recover as fast. Period.”
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