Death of Ohio State football player renews concussion talk

A special exam will done on the 22-year-old Ohio State football player who police say committed suicide, according to a county coroner. The exam will help pinpoint whether Kosta Karageorge suffered from any traumatic brain injury.

Police in Columbus said when Karageorge's family reported him missing last week, his mother said he complained of concussions and having spells of confusion.

"I'm not surprised," said NFL football Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure, who played for the Buffalo Bills and now lives in Charlotte.

DeLamielleure has been diagnosed with CTE, a degenerative condition of the brain caused by repetitive brain trauma, including concussions according to the CTE Center at Boston University.

DeLamielleure has devoted his time to raising awareness of the disease and pushing for progress in making sports safer. He's also working on programs with wounded veterans who suffer from the same diagnosis.

He plans to watch how the Karageorge case develops. He believes progress is being made with young athletes but more could be done to address CTE.

"No doubt there's progress. It's a lot safer game than when we played," he said, talking about he progress made in addressing concussions.

Leigh Ann Caldwell, Manager of Sports Medicine for Carolinas Healthcare System, works with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools to ensure safety when it comes to concussions and other injuries. The partnership, going on five years, includes placing certified athletic trainers at 19 schools and requiring all student athletes to take a baseline impact test. If a student does get a head injury, there's a way to compare before and after the hit.

Caldwell said so far, this school year 140 concussions have been reported at 19 schools. State law requires a student be immediately pulled from the game or practice when a concussion is suspected, even if the student says he or she is okay. The student will only be allowed to gradually return to play after several days, and a doctor's note is required for permission if a concussion has been diagnosed.

Caldwell said a culture of trust and caring is a big factor in making sure students stay healthy. "Even if a student athlete doesn't tell you," she said, "Someone in the locker room will."

If a student does suffer a concussion or takes a hard hit, Caldwell said rest is part of recovery. That means no video games, no cellphones, and no homework so the brain has time to heal.

Copyright 2014 WBTV. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.