President Obama said Thursday he "might have" suffered a concussion or two during his youth football days.
"When I was young and played football briefly, there were a couple of times where I'm sure that that ringing sensation in my head and the need to sit down for a while might have been a mild concussion, and at the time you didn't think anything of it," Obama said during the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The summit, whose purpose was to raise awareness of head injuries on the playing field, included guest speakers, a panel of athletes, and remarks by the president.
"We have to change a culture that says, 'Suck it up,'" Obama said of the attitude, particularly in college and professional sports, of ignoring symptoms that could be a sign of a head injury.
There is also an ongoing problem of children getting concussed.
Victoria Bellucci of Huntingtown, Md., introduced the president in the East Room and said she had suffered five concussions as a high school and club soccer player. The injuries made it difficult for her to focus on school work, and she eventually turned down a full scholarship to play soccer at Towson University near Baltimore. Bellucci is slated to attend Flagler College in Florida starting this fall.
"Concussions have drastically altered my life," Bellucci said.
Obama said nearly 250,000 kids and young adults are taken to the emergency room every year with head injuries caused by sports of other recreational activities. He stressed that despite the risks, he encourages children to play sports and remain active.
"I'd be much more troubled if young people were shying away from sports," Obama said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "As parents, though, we want to keep them safe, and that means we have to have better information."
The White House has been working with the NFL, NCAA, and the Defense Department to make sports safer and increase awareness of head injuries, which can have long-lasting effects.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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