Concussions In Football Essay
Not many sports are as physically demanding on the human body as football. The physical toll that football players pay is almost impossible to comprehend unless one has actually played the sport for a significant amount of time. However, until recently any connection between the hits taken by football players and their health down the road was largely ignored. A common, yet difficult injury to detect in football is a concussion, the most common traumatic brain injury (Pearce). A concussion is defined as “a brain injury that is caused by a sudden blow to the head or the body. The blow shakes the brain inside the skull, which temporarily prevents the brain from working normally” (Heiner pa.5). Reports and studies have surfaced shedding light on just how much damage is inflicted upon the brain due to crippling hits. These studies suggest that NFL athletes who received concussions suffered lasting damage to the brain, which opens the gate to a multitude of other health issues such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and clinical depression (Pearce). This is an aspect of the game that not many are aware of and it is a serous issue that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. There have been too many heartbreaking stories such as that of Justin Strzelcyk who heard voices and died in a crash while fleeing police or that of Andre Waters who shot himself in the head after struggles with depression (Zarda pa.1). Many current and former players are suffering in silence; this shouldn’t be the case. The National Football League needs to extend a hand to former players debilitated by head injuries. The problem of concussions and other head injuries in the NFL is one that needs to be tackled head on.
To begin with, the key to solving the problem of concussions in the National Football League is awareness. NFL players as well as college players need to be educated in some form on the symptoms of a concussion and possible long-term effects. These athletes must be aware of the dangers and realities of this injury. Greg Hadley, a senior linebacker from Colgate University, had a jaw-dropping experience when he went to a Bedford, Massachusetts laboratory; he got an up-close view of the shattered brains of dead football players (Gregory). The young man was able to see what may await him, having suffered four concussions to date and stared in disbelief at the brains as brown as an actual football (Gregory). Sobering experiences like this are needed to get the point across that concussions aren’t something to play with. The statistics are staggering; there is a one in 1000 chance that a 30-49 year old man will receive a diagnosis of dementia, Alzheimer’s or another memory-related disease compared to 1 in 53 chance that an NFL retiree aged 30-49 will receive the same diagnosis (Gregory). Raising awareness shouldn’t just be limited to players; it should extend to the coaching staff and training staff as well. These conferences could take place during the...
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Head Injuries from American Football
Apart from baseball, football is the most played sports in the United States making it common among the males. In the United States, 30 million people participate in the sport. A considerable percentage of the youths within the age bracket of 5-14 years are already participating in the American Football (Delaney et al 234-237). The sport involves fast movements that are intense in the some context. Like rugby, there is blocking of the opponents and breaking the defense.
There are other tackles that are only specific to the sport. Football related injuries are sustained in the long run, and the adverse effects remain elusive. The intense activity in the sport lead to 1.2 million people suffering from head, hip, bone fractures and dislocating joints. Among those injuries, of prime concern is the head injuries. Acceleration of the players lead to the increased intensity of the head injuries and thus the seriousness.
Though uncommon, head injuries may result to serious cases of concussions. There has been a move to increase head injury prevention methods with the NFL taking it as the topmost agenda. There are bouts of fear that failure to act quickly will lead to business loss due to the never-ending chains of lawsuits (Delaney et al 234-237). The past data on the transgressions indicate that there are 4500 retired players who have filed lawsuits to the league for not doing enough to prevent head injuries. Limiting the number of these concussions should remain the main priority for the league.
Head injuries present a major problem since they remain asymptomatic. Of the major injuries associated with the sport, 5 % accounts for concussions with 40% accounting for strains and sprains. In many cases head injuries are present as a myriad of symptoms such as confusion, dizziness, slurred speech and emotional disturbances. Studies indicate a strong link of head injuries to neurological problems. The game demand the use of hips, knees and the back, therefore, head injuries receive little attention.
Progress in the prevention of injuries, as well as sustainable solution, should aim at improving the design of the safety guards such as the helmets, hip guard, knee pads and the mouth guards. Other prevention techniques should focus on other ways that would help in educating the player and research based policies. Such policies will ensure the change of the game rules especially those that heightens the progression towards head injuries. This paper explains in detail about head injuries and the policy based approaches that are used in the intervention.
Head injuries are common in American football and account 22% of all injuries. Concussions form a significant percentage of these injuries. Concussion are described as the states of neural dysfunctions that result from head trauma. In the concussive states there are possibilities of headache, dementia, consciousness loss, nausea and lack of coordination. Most of the football players are students in major colleges.
Studies have shown a decline in cognitive functioning among the players. For instance, a study that was carried out in Erasmus University, in the Netherlands showed that there are poor tests result from the evaluation based on their attention levels and the visual perception. Most injuries in sports contribute to fatalities, however, head related injuries can be a major cause of death among the football players.
Traumatic Brain Injury is the most severe head related injury. A simple definition of a medical condition refers to a blow to the head. TBI arises in the instances when the head suddenly hits an object or when same object pierces the skull to affect the brain tissue. The symptoms of TBI vary from mild, moderate to severe depending on the extent and the nature of the damage. In the mild cases of the injury, there is an altered state of consciousness while the most severe case contributes to coma, unconsciousness or even death. A concussion can be used as an indicator to the extent of brain damage among the football players (Benson et al 321-326).
A retrospect carried out by Cleveland Clinic reveals a twisting trend of truth where football players may experience long-term changes in their brain even if they have never been diagnosed with concussions. The study involved use of brain scans and blood tests where in the blood the researchers were interested with the S100B. S100B is a protein in the body that is associated with regulatory functions of nerve growth.
In diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and certain cancers in the body the protein plays a significant role. Increased hits to the head lead to the release of S100B protein in the blood and thus, the elevated levels. Morbidity and the mortality levels associated with the head injuries have received little attention compared to other related sports injuries (Benson et al 321-326). Repeated concussion for an individual previously diagnosed with the condition can lead to serious consequences.
Diagnosis of head injuries
In the recent past, diagnosing head injuries has started to receive huge attention among the football bodies (Rowson et al 147-151). The high prevalence rate of head injuries is necessitating early diagnosis and detection. Diagnosing of head injury has received huge attention due to the immense of research showing the increasing prevalence of head related injuries. Despite the huge attention in the diagnostic measures, Concussions are difficult to diagnose due to the costly brain scans and furthermore they rely on the symptoms of the player.
The sporting culture brings huge discouragement among the players who fear watching from the sidelines, and yet they desire to participate in the game. The dangers and the long-lasting effect of head injuries are prompting doctors, and the player alike to take the dangers posed seriously. There are studies showing that football players have huge changes in the protective matter of the brain even though they have never been diagnosed with head concussions (Rowson et al 147-151).
Other objective tests could be carried out, for instance, blood tests that are inexpensive. The benefits of this test is that they are inexpensive and can be carried out in the stadiums thus eliminating the need of a player from going to the hospital. The persons at risk of head concussion include the national league players, player who form the collegiate athletic association and the young high school players.
Engineering innovations have been proposed as a way of controlling the increasing rates of head concussion. There are two designs that are in use, and they include: VSR4 and Revolution helmet. When the two are compared there is 53.9% of reduction of concussion risks from Revolution Helmet when in comparison to the VSR4 helmet. The purpose of helmets is to modulate energy transfer during impacts. There are other recommended interventions associated with head injuries. They entail medical examination and provision of medical history to all participants.
Personnel who are associated with training should ensure that there is proper physical conditioning during the training periods (Cantu et al 846-848). Presence of the physician is necessary during both training and the game. Physical measures should be enhanced in consistent with the weather. Athletes who show positive symptoms should have recommended medical examination and treatment. The team should be prepared in the case of catastrophic head injuries with parents and athletes receiving basic training on the associated symptoms and signs.
Diagnosing of head injuries and the associated intervention measures find the derivation from the seriousness of the situation that can lead to damage to the brain and the central nervous system. Some of these injuries may contribute to incomplete recovery from the conditions. In obtaining a measure to the rising trend of head concussions, there are state laws and other action policies meant at decreasing the rising cases.
A good example of this law is Zackery Lystedt passed in 2009. Proposed action plans include limiting contact during training, as well as playing. Rule changes can also happen during the game that limit use of certain techniques. Sports equipment should be in good nature before and after use.
There are associated impediments to the control of head concussion. Some of these impediments entail mild symptoms of concussive states that normally go undetected. Some of the symptoms are experienced in relapses especially in an on-and-off manner (Cantu et al 846-848). This makes it difficult to diagnose and recommends the best medication available. The persistence nature of the problem may be on the decline thus, complicating the chosen medication and control. The bodies that are involved in the control of Head concussion and other head injuries include the American College of Sports Medicine, National Football League (NFL), National Collegiate Athletic Association and Centers for Disease Control that helps in tool kit provision.
Benson BW, Mcintosh AS, Maddocks D, Herring SA, Dvorak J. What are the most effective risk-reduction strategies in sport concussion?. Br Journal of Sports Medicine. 2013 Apr;47(5):321-6
Cantu, RC, Mueller, FO. Brain injury-related fatalities in America football,1945-1999. Journal Of Naurosurgery.2003 Apr;52(4):846-52
Delaney S, Lacroix V, Gagne C, Antonious J. Concussions among University Football and Soccer Players: A Pilot Study. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. 2001;11 (4):234-240.
Rowson s, Duma SM, Greenwald RM, Beckwit JG et al. Can helmet design reduce the risk of concussion in football. Journal of Naurosurgeon. 2014 Jan 31.