Concussionsin Sports Every young athlete has dreams of making it to theprofessional leagues one day but at what cost. How much abuse do we put our bodies through to reach our goals?  Not just our body but our head no matter whatsport you play.

  Concussions are a veryreal and scary thing for every athlete, young and old and happy more than werealize.  Changes have to me made.Concussions area common form of traumatic brain injury resulting from blunt force trauma tothe head, which may be caused by a fall or by being struck in the head.  Also known as minor head trauma, mild headinjury, or mild traumatic brain in jury, a concussion is associated with atemporary lapse or loss of brain function and related physical and mentalsymptoms.  Any athlete suffering aconcussion should be monitored for sleepiness, head pain, dizziness, confusion,incoherence, or nausea, which may signify complications such as hemorrhaging orbrain swelling.Not only is one concussion enough to suffer through,if the recommended rest of seven to ten days isn’t followed the person couldalso suffer what is called the Second Impact Syndrome which is an often-fatal medical condition where asecond concussion occurs before the brain has healed from the first concussion,causing the brain to swell.  Manymedical and education professionals are unaware of the learning and socialdifficulties that can result from a brain injury.  Because acquired brain injury is so oftenmisdiagnosed, students with brain injuries are thought to be emotionally disturbed/mentallyill, or to have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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  As a result, they are often incorrectlymedicated, and rarely receive the educational assistance and support that theydesperately need.  Post concussion syndrome is alsoa major issue, a medical syndrome, also referred to as shell-shock syndrome,that affects individuals for weeks or months after they experience a concussionor mild traumatic brain injury.  Symptomsinclude headaches, emotional irritability, and unpredictability.   A graduated return to play protocol has beenestablished following a concussion.  Itstates there are 6 steps that need to be taken which are: 1.  No activity – complete physical and cognitiverest.

  2. Light aerobic activity –walking, swimming, stationary cycling, mild intensity.  3. Sport specific activity – running orskating drills.  No head impactactivities.  4. Non-Contact trainingdrills – progression to more complex training drills.  5.

Full contact practice – Normal trainingactivities following medical clearance. 6. Return to play – Normal game play. In 1979, professionalhockey required players to wear helmets, in 2002 did an equipment manufacturerfor pro football release a helmet designed to reduce or lesson concussioneffects.  As of 2017, padded helmets arerequired in professional baseball when batter or catching.

  The NHL is widely considered to be the firstprofessional sports league to adapt a concussion policy, having done so in1997.  The NFL implemented its first concussionpolicy in 2007 and updated it in 2009. MLB also implemented its first concussion policy in 2007.  The policy was updated in 2011.  A lawsuit was filed in 2011 against the NFLon behalf of seven former players due to long -term medical effects theysuffered as a result of concussions sustained while playing; numerous otherlawsuits were filed, ultimately representing more than 4,500 formerplayers.  The lawsuits were settled in2013 for $765 million, a sum that has been criticized as insufficient to coverthe more than twenty thousand former players affected by the ruling while representingonly a fraction of the NFL’s annual profits.

 It was in 2015 that the NHL helped fund a British study on concussionsin sports.  For many, concussions in prosports is a crises, and while football, namely the NFL, has attracted moreheadlines due to the physical nature of the sport and its perceived brutality,head injuries and their long term effects are issues that span all professionaland youth leagues. A former NFL player Andre Waterswho died of a self-inflicted gunshot at the age of forty-four, had an autopsyrevealing a brain like that of an 85-year-old which brought the need for aculture change in sports definitively materialize.Boxing isanother sport where concussions are very common.  Medical guidelines state that boxers whoexperience a knockout (KO) or technical knockout (TKO) due to a blow to thehead are given a 30-day medical suspension. Two KOs due to head blows within six months result in a 180-daysuspension.  Our heads needto be protected.Protection for our heads can only protect us for solong.

  They are limited in the ability toprevent concussions unless something else is done.  The solution involves modifying behaviourmore than applying technology.  The morepadding someone has on the harder they feel they can hit and because they areprotected.  It also necessitates an understanding of how brain injurydiffers from the cracking if an egg dropped on the floor, and how helmetsinfluence the behaviour of those who wear them.  Researchers havenot been able to identify a single factor that determines the threshold forconcussion – the kind of information that would make it possible to modifybehaviours and design helmets to keep that factor in a safe range.  Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Wardappeared on a radio show and said “If you want to prevent concussions, take thehelmet off: Play old-school football with no leather helmets, no facemask.

  When you put a helmet on you’re going to useit as a weapon.”  Ward’s suggestion thatthe danger of concussion derives from risky behaviour that is encouraged byhelmet use is an expression of the Peltzman Effect.Concussions are primarilya head injury, the initial concern following an extreme acceleration to thehead is a potentially catastrophic cervical spine injury. (1,2) In a finiteelement element model developed by Viano et al. (2007) it was found that after impactthere is a rapid displacement of the head resulting in neck deformation and abuild up of forces and moments that are transferred from the head to thetorso.  This has prompted the hypothesisthat perhaps increased neck strength may decrease the risk of concussion; beingaware of an impending hit in advance with enough time to contract cervicalstabilizer muscles may be a potential preventative strategy for concussions.    What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion? whatshould you be looking out for? They have slurred speech, repeated vomitingor nausea, they cannot recognize people or places, they get more and moreconfused, restless, or agitated, unusual behaviour, obvious distress whenbreathing, changes in moods and eating habits just to name a few.  As stated above concussions are no laughingmatter.

  They can last for seven to ten daysor even months to years.   The long-term effectsare becoming more known to the medical field, so the preventative measures shouldbe put into place right from the start at the young ages to the oldestathlete.  It is never to late to start.If you want to make the professional leagues than takereally good care of your body, especially your head.  Do not use the helmet as a weapon, follow thestages for back to play after suffering a concussion, and be the leader in thechanges needed to prevent concussions in sports.