Playing high school football is a goal for many teenage boys. Daniel Brett made the JV team August 24, 2009.
“It was wonderful. However, it was also his last day ever playing football," his mother, Diana Brett, told the Broward County School Board. "Daniel pulled himself out of practice and told his coach he couldn’t see."
Brett said her son was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome many months later.
He suffered with chronic headaches, then serious depression.
“Daniel took his own life in May 2011 as a result of the several disabilities he suffered resulting from his brain injuries,” she said.
There’s a common misconception that concussions are only caused by big, hard hits.
“We’re finding more and more often that it’s smaller hits that kids are going through that causes a concussion as well,” said Tony Milian. He is the director of U18 sports medicine at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
Daniel had suffered at least a dozen small concussions over the course of a few years – and didn’t tell anyone.
“He never complained, he wanted to play, that’s all he wanted to do. 'My helmet’s tight, that’s why I have a headache,'” his mother recalls him saying.
A resolution unanimously passed by Broward School Board members aims to educate athletes, parents, and coaches.
Signs of a concussion include headaches, sensibility to light, mood changes, difficulty thinking and concentrating.
“We need to ensure they understand the dire consequences of hiding or underreporting concussions just to stay in the game. My son did," Brett said.
Starting May 1 all Broward public high school athletes will be required to undergo baseline neurocognitive testing before playing sports. It's a computer test to measure brain skills that can be taken again after an injury to compare the difference. There is no cost to students for this test.
Miami-Dade public high schools started similar testing last year.
Markham Park in Sunrise will be the site of the first Daniel’s Dash for Concussion Awareness, a 5K walk/run in memory of Daniel Brett.