(WTVM) - Over the past month, researchers have released information speculating connections between sports-related concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries with the development of degenerative brain diseases later in life.
"It is a little shocking, it's a little devastating when you consider something that you loved and something that you were a part of is now, you finding out is detrimental to your health," explains former NFL player and Columbus resident, Daryll "DJ" Jones.
Jones played football at Columbus' Carver high school, four years at the University of Georgia and five years in the NFL.
He is one of over 2,000 former NFL players suing the National Football League for hiding information that linked football related head trauma to permanent brain injuries.
"It was our right to know that if you were doing extensive research, to talk about the effects of concussions and brain damage. I think we had a right to know and, of course, if you tell us what we are risking and what was involved and we continue to play then it's on us," says Jones.
Researchers at Auburn University's MRI Research Center are taking steps to discover the link between head trauma and long-term brain damage.
"The objective is to find a mile marker of symptoms that are caused by concussions. Not everyone who gets concussed develops symptoms and it's difficult to diagnose who has the symptoms," explains Dr. Tom Denney, Director of the Auburn University MRI Center.
Similar to the NFL, the military is concerned about long term brain damage caused by battlefield injuries.
AU is working with soldiers utilizing some of the most advanced MRI scanners in the world.
"The scanners allow us to look at the brain with the resolution and clarity that has not been possible before, so it allows us to get a little bit better insight as to what going on in the brain and in these concussion cases," states Denney.
As for younger athletes, experts are advising to look less aggressive sports.
"It's almost impossible to say to play these contact sports, especially football right now, when you have soccer and basketball and other sports to help with your development," says Jones.