Friends, family and teammates of Germantown native Derek Sheely attended the Frostburg State University football player's funeral Thursday in Gaithersburg. The 22-year-old fullback died Sunday after suffering what his family says was a devastating head injury during practice at the western Maryland university on August 22.
University officials say they are not sure exactly how Sheely was injured. He collapsed while being escorted off the practice field and was rushed to the hospital.
According to a recently concluded study of high school athletes, the number of reported concussions has increased dramatically over the past dozen years. Football and Boys Lacrosse are the sports with the most reported brain injuries.
Stefan Duma, the head of a Virginia Tech study of football-related head injuries that also rated the safety of helmets, says about Derek Sheely's death: "The risk of that injury is extraordinarily small. Unfortunately in rare cases, this can happen even with the best protection."
Frostburg State says its players wear helmets that rank at the top of the Virginia Tech study.
Duma says some helmets are better than others at reducing the risk of injury. But Jon Almquist, a longtime athletic trainer, says helmets are not made to prevent concussions - just skull fractures. And he says you don't need to bang your head to get a concussion.
"You can actually fall on your body and if your head moves suddenly or stops suddenly or changes direction suddenly or rotates suddenly, you can actually have a concussion as well,” he said.
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