4 April 2014
NFL Concussions and Their Long-Term Effects
On May 2, 2012, the National Football League lost one of its elite players to suicide: Junior Seau. Seau played for the Chargers, Dolphins, and the Patriots during his professional football career and was a 12-time Pro Bowler before retiring in 2009. Three years after his retirement however, Seau committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest with a gun. This greatly shocked the football world and its image of Junior Seau as a person, but it soon realized the cause for his action. Shortly after Seau’s death, researchers examined Seau’s brain and found that it contained a disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy which is formed by repeated blows to the head; a very common disease among former football players (Football Brains). The Seau family then filed a lawsuit against the NFL claiming that the league held back information from the players about the danger of continuous blows to the head (Seau’s Death on Brain Injuries). Since the formation of the National Football League in 1920, the popularity of the sport has grown tremendously over the years. It seems nowadays that more and more people are getting interested in the NFL, whether it is talking about their favorite team at work or at school or watching them play on game day. However, on the flip side of all the amazing catches and touchdowns, there is a dark side to the NFL known as the concussion problem. This problem has grown so much over the years that there have been more than 4200 lawsuits by former and current players against the NFL stating that the NFL has been trying to cover up the detrimental long term effects of concussions and also relied on NFL doctors to feed them the information they wanted to hear while rejecting the studies done by researches showing the long term effects concussions have on the brain (Junior Seau’s Death Keeps Spotlight on Brain Injuries). In order for the NFL to keep thriving the way it is right now, the league had to reject the information shown by researchers which showed the harmful effects of concussions in the long run and instead had to hire their “own” doctors to say that concussions are minor and cause no detrimental long run effects. I believe that repetitive concussions do cause health problems in the future for NFL players and that the NFL covered up the truth about concussions.
Being that I watch the NFL regularly, it seems like it is almost guaranteed that at least one or more players will experience a concussion during the game with all the physical contact taking place. Some of the concussions these players experience are obvious in that they are motionless on the ground and some are not so obvious in that they are still able to make it to the bench. According to Jennifer Car of BrainFacts.org, a concussion is caused when the head is struck violently which then leads to a brief disruption in brain activity. When the head is struck suddenly, the brain is set in motion and bangs the skull’s rough and ragged inside which causes the brain cells to stretch and sometimes even split (Mild Brain Injury and Concussion). Michael Collins, a clinical psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who specializes in sports-related concussions, states that “a concussion is basically an energy crisis to the brain cells” and he also states that “the brain has to work much harder to perform tasks” (Hard Knocks: The Science of Concussions). This disruption can cause an individual to experience a variety of different symptoms in the following minutes and hours. The range of symptoms includes the following: nausea, vomiting, brief loss of consciousness, and dizziness (Hard Knocks: The Science of Concussions). Later symptoms include: lightheadedness, depression, anxiety, ringing in the ears, constant migraine headaches, and poor concentration or attention (Mild Brain Injury and Concussion).
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