BOZEMAN, Mont. - Levi Wesche, the head coach of the Bozeman High School football team, says the program has a strong concussion protocol. A recent national study showed a majority of football players tested suffered from CTE.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative disease that's been found in hundreds of football players. CTE can lead to memory loss, aggression, depression and sometimes suicidal behavior, among other symptoms.
For the Bozeman High School Hawks, if a player displays concussion symptoms they must sit out for at least seven days and continue to do so until symptoms subside. After seven days they can gradually return to activity over the course of three days, without showing symptoms, before they can return to the field.
It's a policy the National Federation of High School Associations mandated for teams nationwide.
When it comes to helmets Wesche estimates the oldest helmet available to players is six years old. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment mandates helmets must be replaced after 10 years.
Wesche tells NBC Montana the team reconditions its helmets to meet NOCSAE standards every one to two years in accordance with NOCSAE's recommendation.
Wesche says the latest research on CTE hasn't changed the team's safety standards.
"We're always worried about our players," Wesche said. "It's more important that they have a great life beyond here than playing one game or one season."