Concussions: A Well-Known, but Dangerous Part of Contact Sports
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Concussions aren’t very obscure. If you or someone you know plays a contact sport, then you or that person will either have ran the risk of or experienced a concussion. While it is often seen as a necessary evil when playing any kind of contact sport, concussions have the potential of causing a lot of harm in both the short term and the long term.
Concussions are instances of brain trauma caused by taking a blow to the head from an outside force. The initial symptoms of a concussion are loss of consciousness, headaches, unusual behavior, nausea, and slurred speech, among others (CDC). About 4 in 5 concussions have only temporary effects (lasting up to six weeks), but the other fifth can experience long-term effects, including trouble concentrating or remembering, depression, or lost of smell and taste (University of Utah). The odds of long-term effects go up with repeated concussions, especially if the victim doesn’t have enough resting time between injuries.
About half of concussion victims are 19 and below, with 15-17 year olds making up about a fifth of all concussion injuries (Statista). 70% of concussions have to do with contact sports or recreational activities. By pure numbers, American football makes up the largest cause of sports-related concussions, with 250,000 cases reported each year (Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention). However, football only makes up the second highest proportion of concussions to games (the biggest offender is actually Men’s Rugby). Since football is the largest causer of sports-related injuries, a lot of research is being conducted about injuries, especially in the NFL. For instance, in a study conducted by Boston University, 99% of the NFL football players in a post-mortem study had symptoms of CTE, a degenerative brain disorder caused by repeated blows to the head that can effect victims physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
While they are a normal part of contact sports, concussions can still cause a lot of physical and psychological damage to the player. If you or someone you know took a hit to the head during a game or practice, then it’s a good idea to pay a visit to the doctor if you have any symptoms. There are some quick diagnostics that medical personnel know to help assess how badly you’ve been injured concussion-wise. If you do have a concussion, then the doctor will prescribe an amount of time you have to take to rest before you can go back to school or work. Even as you are preparing to return, it’s a good idea to ease back into work and school, and often there is a bit of time between returning to school and returning to play a sport again. This lag time is essential to making sure your brain heals properly after an injury. While concussions can be dangerous, parents and coaches can help prevent lasting injuries by making a safer sports culture and making sure to have an action plan to deal with possible concussions. That way, athletes can leave the field both accomplished and healthy.