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Joe Namath Joined By Former Athletes For Brain Injury Awareness Forum

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Concussion awareness has been on the rise for a few years now.

Parents often ask what the best treatments are, and if they should even let their kids play contact sports.

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez explained, the science of concussion treatment is changing rapidly, from total brain rest to gradual return to activities soon after an injury.

There's also been a change in attitudes -- among professional athletes who have had concussions -- about letting their kids play.

"I know there are a lot of friends and folks out there, I don't even know that can use some guidance and some help," New York Jets legend, Joe Namath said.

That's why Namath was on Long Island on Wednesday, to take part in the Head Injury Association's 'Brain Injury Awareness Sports Forum' at the New York Institute of Technology.

CBS2's Dr. Gomez moderated the event, as athletes gave varying opinions about their concussions and their sports.

Heavyweight boxer Jerry Cooney and hall of fame jockey Ramon Dominguez don't want their children to follow in their footsteps, while New York Jets John Nitti and Marty Lyons said the life lessons gained from team sports outweighed the risks.

It's something hall of fame running back Curtis Martin said literally saved his life from a violent childhood in Pittsburgh.

"The education, the values, the discipline, the camaraderie, you cannot learn these things just walking down the street," Martin said.

He also echoed what New York Islander Bobby Nystrom said -- that we now have to be smarter and better educated about concussions and their treatment.

That's what Namath's doctor spoke about.

The clinical trial using hyperbaric oxygen to treat chronic concussions is going on at the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida.

"Being able to use oxygen, it helps jump start a lot of the processes in your body and the problem with a brain injury is there are areas that aren't getting enough oxygen that have been damaged and there's a possibility to wake those areas up and have them heal themselves," Dr. Barry Miskin said.

Namath himself has had 120 hyperbaric treatments. His brain scans show they've made a difference that he feels.

"I'm convinced through the brain scans, through the cognitive tests, it's helped me, so I know we can help others," Namath said.

That's why Joe said he's helping raise money for the FDA approved clinical trial using hyperbaric oxygen. It's currently at the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida, but they're working to expand the sites to include New York, Los Angeles, and other locations.




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