Head Injuries in Football By: Chase Ashworth

“You are supposed to be tough. You are supposed to play through pain. You are not supposed to cry. We are taught that early on in the game as kids. Tough sport. Brutal sport. It’s like the gladiator. People want to see the big hits. They wind up on Sports Center. And as a player, you don’t want to admit you are injured.” –Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson

Head Injuries are becoming way to common in todays world of football. Head injuries are injuries to the scalp, skull, or brain caused by trauma. Concussions are the most common type of sports-related brain injury with an estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related concussions a year. A concussion is a type of traumatic injury that happens when the brain is jarred or shaken hard enough to bounce against the skull. This can happen when two athletes collide or when someone falls and hits his or her head. It can also result from being hit in the head with a piece of sporting equipment. In a sport such as soccer, even "heading" the ball can cause a concussion. A concussion causes an alteration of a person's mental status and can disrupt the normal functioning of the brain. Multiple concussions can have a long-lasting, cumulative life-changing effect.

Head Injuries can happen anywhere but the most common place where they occur is on the football field. The most common disease for football players is CTE. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease found in people who have had a severe blow or repeated blows to the head. Symptoms of CTE generally begin 8–10 years after experiencing repetitive mild traumatic brain injury. First stage symptoms include deterioration in attention as well as disorientation, dizziness, and headaches. Further disabilities appear with progressive deterioration, including memory loss, social instability, erratic behavior, and poor judgment. Third and fourth stages include progressive dementia, slowing of muscular movements, hypomania, impeded speech, tremors, vertigo, deafness, and suicide. Out of 165 people who played football at the high school, college, or professional level. They found evidence of CTE in 131 of them—79 percent. Of the brains studied, 91 of them belonged to former NFL players, and 87 of those 91 (96 percent) had signs of CTE. Retired players sued the league to establish a pool of $675 million to cover injuries and diseases linked to head trauma that the players sustained during their careers. The $675 million originally set aside was considered sufficient by both sides because the fund would earn interest over the 65-year life of the settlement. According to the assumptions compiled by the lawyers for the plaintiffs, about 28 percent of former players, totaling 5,900, will develop compensable injuries. Only about 60 percent, or 3,600, of those players are expected to file claims, which are estimated to total $950 million. Just over half of that money will be paid in the first 20 years, with the rest paid in the remaining 45 years of the settlement fund’s life.

Concussions and other head injuries can have some serious long and short term effects, as well as physical and emotional effects. Short term effects, lasting a few hours to a few weeks- these symptoms may appear immediately after the blow/trauma leading to the concussion or may appear after a few days or weeks. Some physical effects include: headaches, change in sleep patterns, lightheaded, blurred vision/seeing stars, being dazed, nausea/vomiting, and loss of consciousness. Some emotion effects are: depression, mood swing and change in personality, frustration, and feeling easily overwhelmed. The long term effects will last a few months to a few years. The long term effects are: long term memory loss, emotional distress, slowing of some types of movement, depression, and increased possibility of suicide attempts. Concussions are cumulative and recovery from traumatic brain injury can be a rollercoaster. This means that each time you have a concussion it is easier to get another concussion in the future, and the short and long-term effects of each repeated concussions become more severe. Even one concussion can lead to severe short-term and long-term effects however. Most concussions are not too serious, but even one can lead to serious short and long-term consequences.

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