Concussions in Football Essay

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Creating Awareness for Sports-Related Brain Injuries The National Football League is one of the biggest organizations in the United States. The injury rate in football is overwhelming, so overwhelming there are already studies out saying football might lead to suicide. Injuries are quite the stat in today’s sports world but the scariest numbers of them all are head injuries. People don’t realize how big of a dilemma it is and even most youth coaches cannot tell the difference between a concussed kid and a non-concussed one.

Football and America go hand and hand, to take away America’s favorite game is just way too absurd to think about but could it happen? Or will we just sit back and let our athletes take the beating? According to many research journals and experts, the steps toward making the game safer include effective surveys, real life events and stories, and basic information about concussions. This will accumulate more precaution for readers to adequately show what is needed to help this outbreak from spreading.

The severe increase in football concussions has had a shocking effect on current and former athletes and needs to be assessed more accurately in order for the proper awareness of head trauma to be efficient in today’s society. This research paper has been outlined with three key points that support its main focus of concussion awareness. Starting out with basic information about concussions as the first point, an initiative for awareness as the second, and finally the last point goes on about showing real life situations where concussions have impacted lives immeasurably.

I played soccer my entire life and my father always emphasized this same quote almost every time something extreme happened during an NFL game, “Son, football players are just a bunch of big dumb idiots waiting to get hurt, this is why you play real football”. In some ways he was right, but soccer also has its risks, as both sports are examples of aerobic exercises that can lead to high levels of intensity. Concussions according to the CDC, “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” are minor traumatic brain injuries or MTBI’s.

A concussion is caused by an excessive force rattling within the skull typically with great force and is the most common type of brain injury. Usually defined as minor because of its less than threatening severity but can become quickly skewed if not treated properly. “At least 75% of all concussions are classified as mild” (Mayer 1523). Having this knowledge is comforting when someone you know or even yourself sustains a concussion but again if this “mild” brain injury is not treated properly it can lead to more harsh consequences and become “severe”.

Ways to treat a concussion are very simple, mainly because the only treatment for this type of injury is solely rest. It sounds like such an easy task but yet we struggle with it so much. Reasons for this are because of the type of people accumulating the majority of concussions and the resources that Americans use on a daily basis. Typically the athletes are the ones getting the majority of the concussions and “There are 1. 6 to 3. 8 million sports-related concussions and brain injuries suffered in the United States annually, with the vast majority going unreported, undocumented, and untreated.” (Omalu 21)

This fact is one reason why we sometimes struggle with care because typically athletes will either not tell anyone or will not think their injury is a concussion therefore will most likely forget about it. According to the CDC the other reasons we tend to care for these injuries so poorly are because of the habits us Americans go through on a daily bases that are bad for healing a concussion such as television, text messaging, video games, and even school work. Rest is concussion’s only ultimatum and is so easy yet so hard to adjust to in our sometimes stubborn daily lives.

Signs and symptoms of a sports related concussion generally include headaches and dizziness but can also take on the occasionally blurred vision, bright lights, and fogginess of either more severe or non-typical concussions depending on the incident. According to the CDC there are also conditions called post concussion syndrome and second impact syndrome. Post concussion syndrome is when a concussion is sustained and normal cognition is not fully reached in its respective time frame.

Second impact syndrome is usually the one that is causing all the problems in football. America’s perception of a football player is to be tough and play through the pain but it cannot be “A game of speed and collisions, football has often airbrushed its harsher parts as some kind of modern gladiator fable, in which the toughest limped to victory. ” (Gay D. 6. ) Playing through the pain is just a means to survive as a football player, especially an NFL athlete who is getting paid millions of dollars to do so.

Consequently, the gladiators themselves might have created this second impact syndrome because of the hits taken directly after or even days after in practice following a concussion. There is “Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports” Initiative that is being spread across the country to help educate coaches of the concussion famine in the USA. The focus of the CDC’s Heads up initiative includes actual surveys to conduct research that helps demonstrate awareness for concussions in sports. This information is framed for others to help shrivel up the problem of concussions in today’s sports culture.

“Every year approximately 45 million American youth participate in organized sports, youth athletes between the ages of 5 and 18 years account for 65% of all sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries treated in US emergency departments annually. ” (Covassin 233). One can conclude that coaches are to some extent accountable for their kid’s brain injuries to be reported, documented, and treated. A 22-item survey was released to 1,000 youth coaches but only 340 responded showing a low percent, which was not a good start.

This survey included questions pertaining their knowledge about concussions and other character questions that resulted in poor knowledge of concussions. The ending result was positive, while concluding the 6-month period 72% of the coaches are reported to have shared their knowledge with other youth coaches. Further research found showed that this concussion initiative is getting bigger and bigger while the CDC’s popularity is also expanding. Steps like these make a big impact on the awareness our culture needs about health and wellness as well as progressively modernizing the world one step at a time.

Not only does concussion awareness involve surveys and information for coaches but the knowledge of real life events that have scared former athletes for the rest of their lives. Mike Webster, Jim McMahon, Junior Seau, Dave Duerson, Chris Henry, and far too many other names have struggled and are currently struggling with symptoms caused from head trauma or some would blame the entire game of football. The names just recited have sued or are still in the process of suing the NFL for the effects that football left on their bodies.

The saddest part is that the families of the affected ones have to go through all the legal drama because the state of confusion and depression the former players are living with today are far too much to handle, as if the NFL is some sort of evil venture that uses players for their skills then dishonorably leaves them to rot. After so many cases were submitted the NFL finally surrendered them selves after denying abundantly about the claims they foresaw in the past about concussions and brain injuries.

This settlement only happened during the past year as the stubborn and greedy powerhouse that is the NFL settled for 765 million dollars for over the past 20 years of irresponsible judgment toward our players. When you see this number you are probably in awe, but don’t be fooled because according the Wall Street Journal, “NFL revenues are projected to reach 10 billion dollars this season. ” (Gay D. 6) Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy known as CTE or gridiron dementia is named after all the effects coming from football.

CTE is a disease that is an accumulation of abnormal proteins, loss of brain cells, and major depression found in football players. There are different types of CTE and they are mainly found in boxers, football players, and 80-90 year olds “The brains of football players that I have examined revealed the accumulation of abnormal proteins called tau proteins. These proteins and structures are typically found in a type of dementia called tangle-only dementia. This type of dementia predominately occurs in patients in their eighties and nineties” (Omalu 62).

Dr. Omalu, who is a forensic pathologist examines 130 brains annually and came across a man named Mike Webster and was his first patient where he found CTE in his autopsy. Mike Webster was a man among men who took no prisoners when it came to stepping onto the field. If you watch the PBS special called “League of Denial”, it will show you clips of this man on the field and what he stood for, he was ferocious. So ferocious in fact that he suffered many more head injuries than any other player that was on the field at any given time.

He retired and suffered from CTE throughout his entire retirement and died shortly after being diagnosed at the age of 50. Jim McMahon was the bad boy of the 85’ Chicago Bears team that lead the Bears to a Super Bowl and won it by a whopping 36 points. In the NFL that is hard to do, McMahon was considered the bad boy because of his party boy demeanor and persistent selfish attitude. This was one reason why he was so great as well as his crazy competitive nature, which got him in trouble a bit and is now paying the consequences for having that state of mind.

He was another guy who would go all out on the field but the difference was he was a quarterback and couldn’t do that unless he would get hurt. Hurt he was as he suffered from more concussions than you could believe. Jim is not suffering from dementia as well and needs 24-hour assistance and has to wear thick sunglasses to protect his eyes from the sunlight. Dave Duerson, Junior Seau, and Paul Oliver are all former NFL players who suffered from CTE or as we now call it, gridiron dementia. All three of these players committed suicide in the past 3 years but are among many who have also taken their lives.

Dave Duerson was among the championship team that won in 1985 with Jim McMahon and friends and committed suicide at the age of 50 while leaving a note that said he wanted his brain to be donated to science. Junior Seau was only 43 years old and committed suicide as well just last year, and Paul Oliver who was only 29 years of age when taking his life due to gridiron dementia. Did you ever thing the NFL could do such harm to a player? Well because of all these ailments to the brain that football causes, the families are still trying to sue the NFL for their potential wrongdoing.

The same families are creating foundations in the names of the players who have passed that help prevent these things from happening and help raise money for more research as well. The NFL in the past couple of year has made some changes to their rulebook, which eliminates helmet to helmet hitting and other head and neck precautionary ruling. Some say the NFL is becoming softer but again this is because of the so-called modern gladiator that we as spectators have fashioned the players out to be.

I think with the right officiating, more research on CTE patients or former players, and more studies like the CDC’s initiative we can make this game safer and keep it as great and entertaining as it is now. The last and final step is the progress we as fans convey out as we also help this movement carry on and always stay engrained in the back of our mind when thinking about the football and sports in general. Concussions can’t always be avoided but research does show that there are possible cures to help prevent the damages that concussions can have on your life.

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