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Boom!: Long-Term Effects of Sports Related Concussions

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Luke Hopson

Alex Blumenstock

29 April 2015

ENGL 1020

Boom!: Long-Term Effects of Sports Related Concussions

Sports are a prevalent factor in society today and play a huge role in keeping people active and healthy which is why the number of concussions has sky rocketed in the last few years. Athletes have gotten bigger, faster, and stronger, but the problem is this has caused more head injuries like concussions. “It is estimated that each year between 1.6 and 3.8 million athletes in the United States suffer a concussion related to participation in sport however, this is still considered an underestimation due to many injuries going unrecognized and, therefore, unreported” (Marshall 299). This is a mind-blowing number when compared to the number of people in the world. Concussions have become a serious medical problem among athletes today, and they tend to baffle numerous people in the medical profession. These individuals have studied medicine and the human body at the highest level, but concussions have given them more than they can handle. This is because a concussion is not like a broken bone; it affects the most important part of the human body, the brain. Concussions can occur when partaking in any sport or physical activity, but they are most common in football. The highest level of this sport, the National Football League (NFL), is in an ongoing debate over this traumatic injury, its affects, and their protocol on it. However, concussions are not limited to the highest level; they can occur at all ages, even youth sports. These complicated head injuries have become a serious problem for all athletes, but mainly those participating in contact sports such as hockey, football, rugby, and even soccer. At least one player receives one every week, and protocol and treatment is continually changing. Concussions are injuries that need much further attention; they cause extreme harm if not treated properly, and they can have serious long-term effects. “Although recovery is reported within 3–12 months for most concussion patients, symptoms sometimes persist for several years following injury” (Kleffelgaard et al. 788). Concussions can be extremely nagging, and these injuries should be taken seriously no matter what, and all diagnosed athletes should follow the necessary protocol before returning to normal activities.  Sports create situations for individuals to receive concussions, and the correct procedures are not always taken causing athletes to develop serious long-term issues that can effect or even shorten a person’s life.

A big issue involved with concussions is how the media has helped bring the problem to light. “There has been a recent increase in awareness regarding the effects of chronic or repeated concussion” (Whyte, Benton and White 381). There is nothing that helps a problem come to the public forefront more than the media. This happening has made working on solving the concussion problem much easier for those involved. Over the years medical workers such as trainers and doctors have attempted to undermine the effects of concussions on the human brain. However, as time has passed and more issues have been brought to light they have been disproven. Research studies have found that concussions can cause devastating long-term effects such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive disabilities, sleeping problems, and even thinking and concentration issues. These effects can cause a person’s life to be changed drastically. Countless injuries occur in sports, but not many can harm like concussions if not treated properly and allowed time to heal. “Despite post-concussion symptoms being common and resolving in the short-term for the majority, 22 to 36% of MTBI patients continue to report three or more post-traumatic symptoms six months after injury” (Donovan, Cancelliere, and Cassidy 28).

Many times an athlete will get back on the field or court too quickly due to their stubbornness or pressure from coaches, parents, or teammates. This is why it is important to be educated because if an athlete is they will be much less likely to return too soon due to the fact they will be aware of what could happen to them without proper care. A positive aspect of the situation is that concussions are finally receiving the attention they deserve. People everywhere are noticing that concussions are now a real problem. They are occurring in the lowest levels of pee wee league all the way up the highest level in the NFL. As long as researchers and doctors continue to progress in attacking concussions, individuals will be safer in any athletic situation they find themselves in

Examining the issue of concussions from a medical standpoint presents a different viewpoint than the one the common person has. For the most part, non-medical workers are not a hundred percent aware of how complex and vital the brain is to human life. Extensive research has been done over time about how the brain functions. The puzzling part is that scientists and doctors with all their knowledge have been thrown a real wrench in examining the long-term effects of concussions.  It is obvious that the issue is complex to normal people due to the limited medical knowledge, but as technology and science has progressed, researchers and doctors have had more issues brought to their attention that have truly shown how clueless even they have been. “While medical professionals are still struggling to fully understand concussions and brain injuries in order to improve athlete safety, it is clear that physical contact in sports can result in such injuries” (Gove 654). Research has proven several long-term issues can occur from concussions that were previously unknown.  

More precautions are beginning to be taken, mainly in contact sports such as football and hockey. Both of these respective sports are taking steps such as improving helmets and tests to make sure athletes do not have a concussion after a blow to the head.  “For example, during the 2011-’12 National Hockey League (NHL) season, there were 128 concussions—a nine percent decrease from the previous season, according to statistics compiled by USA Today” (Krans). Steps are being taken in the right direction, but there is still improvement to be made.  Sports are fun and enjoyable, but the rest of athletes’ lives are more important and while in the back of people’s minds this has always been known, it is just now being truly shown.

        The main problem that individuals with concussions face is the fact they can range from extremely minor and require no treatment at all to severe and requiring extensive treatment. It is possible for one athlete to take a monster hit to the head and have a mild concussion, while another athlete could just have a small jolt to the head and suffer a severe concussion. This could be part of the problem. It is basically impossible to know what the factors effecting severity are which has caused a lot of guessing and assumptions to take place. It is important that research and medical studies continue to develop and help trainers and doctors have the full knowledge they need to attack this problem. The process of dealing with this injury has come a long way since it first came about. It used to just be a type of eye test and once the trainer determined the athlete looked fine they were good to go, which is the reason why many former athletes are suffering the long-term effects as they age. Now an individual must go through numerous tests and treatment to be allowed to return to play.

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