During the past few years, there has been an increased amount of attention paid to injuries that take place during sports. With decades of data to study, scientists are starting to realize the significance of head and brain injuries that take place during a number of sports events. While the NFL has received a lot of attention because of its rate of concussion injuries, the reality is that just about any contact sport could cause someone to suffer a concussion. It is important for everyone to understand how these injuries happen, how they are diagnosed, and what the long-term consequences might be.
First, it is important for everyone to note that concussions take place following a blow to the head. The exact definition of a concussion might be a bit murky; however, these are head injuries that cause a temporary alteration in the way the brain processes information yet it does not show up on an imaging scan. As a result, concussions are usually diagnosed clinically. This means that the doctor will make the diagnosis using a history and physical exam alone. If there are any issues that show up on an imaging scan, then this changes the diagnosis to something else. For example, a cerebral contusion takes place when a bruise shows up on the surface of the brain.
While a single concussion might not be a cause for long-term concern, repeated blows to the head can lead to serious issues. This could lead to a problem called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is usually shortened to CTE. This has been a growing concern in the NFL, where players might spend decades playing football. This could cause countless neurons throughout the brain to end up dying, leading to a form of severe dementia. Some players who used to play in the NFL even committed suicide as a result of the symptoms. This could include memory loss, emotional lability, and issues maintaining relationships with family members and friends.
Due to the problems that have shown up in professional athletes, there is an increased amount of attention being paid to younger athletes as well. Now, coaches and trainers are starting to keep a closer eye on kids as they play sports. In addition, the NFL has hired doctors to keep an eye on their games and remove players from the field of play who are showing symptoms of a concussion. Some of the most common symptoms include headaches, memory loss, and fears of bright lights and loud noises.
In general, most people will recover from a concussion in a few days; however, repeated blows to the head can lead to long-term issues. This is why all sports teams need to invest in advanced equipment that can help them keep their athletes safe from harm. While no solution is going to be perfect when it comes to preventing head injuries in athletes, there is more that we can be doing. Safety comes first.