The Dangers of Concussion in Football
In a country that thrives on competition it is no wonder Americans have embraced football as their favorite sport. Every weekend during football season, millions line up, tune in, or change the channel to watch their favorite teams do battle for 60 minutes. It is a rough physical game and at the collegiate and professional levels, played by some of the worlds best athletes. There are many dangers involved when participating in such a sport. Rarely will a player go through a game without being hurt in some capacity. This is part of the game and everyone involved knows it. Because of this, players often have to be the judge of whether they are “Injured”, or “hurt.” The difference being that someone who is just hurt can still perform physically and should be able to return to the game. However if a player is injured, this means that they have been hurt to the point where they are not physically able to play, or to the point that further play could escalate the injury into something much more serious. For most injuries this distinction is easy to make, for instance a sprained ankle can either be ran on or it cant, depending on the extent of the sprain. If a player suffers a concussion though, it can be much more difficult for that player to consider himself injured.
The reason concussions are such a problem is because physically a player can still perform, even though they may be impaired mentally. Dedicated football players will often do anything they can to avoid coming out of a game, especially if the player is not well educated on the effects of concussions. They may notice concussion like symptoms, but may chose not to tell the coach or medical staff in order to stay in the game. In fact many teams (required by NCAA/NFL) give their players a baseline test before the season to see how fast their mind works when completely healthy. A player can then be retested during the season if showing symptoms and in theory their thinking process should work slower. The problem with this test however is that many players actually cheat on the baseline exam so that when concussed their answers appear the same, according to Dr. Daniel Amen. (Marvez) In some cases coaches even look the other way when a player appears to be showing symptoms. This issue was brought to light in July, 2012 when over 2,000 former NFL players joined together to file a lawsuit against the league. Claiming that the NFL “exacerbated the health risk by promoting the game's violence and deliberately and fraudulently misled players about the link between concussions and long-term brain injuries.”(Avila) The NFL is currently taking preventative measures, and even started attempting to improve concussion safety before the suit was filed. Enforcing stricter rules on illegal hits, and concussion protocol. This is not eliminating the problem however. On november 11th 2012, three NFL quarterbacks suffered concussions during their respective games. Michael Vick, Alex Smith, and Jay Cutler. In Smith’s case he remained in the game for the rest of the offensive series, throwing a touchdown pass with “blurry vision” before being diagnosed on the sidelines.(Sando, ESPN) Of the three players, none of them have been cleared to return as of 11/22/12. Although strides are being made to improve treatment and prevention of concussions, they remain footballs greatest health concern and further steps still need to be taken.
In order to truly recognize the dangers of concussions, it is important to know what exactly a concussion is. According to the textbook Modern Principles of Athletic Training, the definition is as follows:
Most traumas suffered by the head are the result of direct or indirect blows and may be classified as concussion injuries. Literally, “concussion” means an agitation or a shaking from being hit, and “cerebral concussion” refers to the agitation of the brain...
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