Opinion: We must help athletes realize the importance of receiving help for concussions

Payton Bishop
Oxford Stories

The rush of blood is pumping faster than it has all day. You can feel the butterflies in your stomach from the excitement. The lights are shining down on the field with everyone in the bleachers cheering. You are ready to make an impactful play, then bang you go down and see pitch blackness.

“Are you okay,” your teammate asks.

“Yea, I’m good,” You respond.

As you get back up, you stumble a little bit, then regain your balance. The lights are blinding, the field is blurry and shaking. The only thought currently is returning back to the action you were previously doing no matter the pain and confusion running through the body.

This is sadly a very realistic view of athletes all across the world. Athletes across all platforms and ages are willing to sacrifice their bodies and more importantly their minds for a game. The love of playing a sport overpowers any willingness to remove their self from a dangerous situation. This leads athletes to suffer concussions and even worsen them by continuing to play.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes a concussion as a functional injury that affects how the brain works. The CDC says a concussion is “caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head by a hit to the body that causes the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating a chemical change in the brain.” Contact to the brain is not necessary as whiplash from a hit or fall, where the head is jolted in a violent forward motion, can create a concussion.

Athletes refuse to receive attention for a possible head injury or concussion. Athletes will lie about their condition to avoid being removed from a game. This will leave athletes injuries unknown and uncured.

The number of traumatic brain injuries in sports is currently second behind motor vehicle accidents in ages 15 to 24 years. The National Center for Biotechnology Information did a research on concussions among high school and collegiate athletes. They discovered that 8.9 percent of high school injuries and 5.8 percent in collegiate ones are concussion related. They concluded that developing an effective sports-related measure to advance our knowledge in the patterns, rates, and symptoms from them.

There are questions that become aware from these realizations. How do we help an athlete that refuses to acknowledge their medical state? How can we quickly notice an athlete is suffering from a concussion? What can we do to help athletes realize the importance of receiving help for a concussion?

A quick and immediate way of knowing suffering from a concussion is the symptoms. Medical News Today lists confusion, vomiting, headache, nausea, depression, disturbed sleep, moodiness, and amnesia as ways an athlete may be suffering from concussion-like symptoms. These symptoms can help recognize what athletes are suffering a concussion through the abnormal behavior or physical pain.

Effects of concussion have different results on the severity of the injury. Shorts term effects of concussions can be memory loss and being dazed with a headache. These are minor injuries that go unseen for many athletes as they can cover up and fail to recognize themselves of suffering a concussion. The small concussions do not have major risks to suffering which can be seen as a comfortable reason for athletes to refuse to be removed from a game. Meanwhile, these injuries build up if the brain cannot repair itself from suffering a previous traumatic brain injury. Eventually, the brain will have not be able to handle the suffering and result in long-term brain injuries.

The long-term effects of concussions are taste and smell disorders, memory loss, sensitivity to light and noise, trouble concentrating, sleep disturbances and rapid change of behavior. Athletes fail to understand the possibility of these effects that can occur to them. Most athletes believe they do not have anything greater in life than sports. Therefore, the major effects like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) that appear years after the athlete is finished playing sports causes deterioration in the brain at a higher rate.

Athletes need to grasp a firm understanding that sports will not be there for the rest of their lives. Every athlete stops playing at some point in life, even the greatest players eventually retire.

Quintessentially People did a report on the average career length of athletes playing in United States sports.

NFL- 3.5 years
MLB- 5.6 years
NBA- 4.8 years
MLS- 3.2 years
NHL- 5.5 years
WNBA- 5 years

These numbers show that most athletes even if they make it into a professional career they will be done before they leave their 20s. The distraction of sports will not help them survive the effects of CTE through the concussions suffered in the sport.

Junior Sea is a major example of this lesson. Sea was a linebacker for the San Diego Chargers who took his own life in 2012. The reasoning behind his suicide was CTE resulting from years of concussions in the NFL. In ESPN’s 30 for 30 films “Sea”, he was described as a passionate player along with having a charismatic personality with everyone. At the age of 43, Sea left behind a daughter and three sons.

Many sports are working on improving the prevention of concussions. Soccer teams are having athletes wear concussion headbands to reduce the risk of gaining a concussion while hitting the ball with your head. Football is focused on making helmets that prevent the head from rattling from hits to prevent the cause of concussions. All sports are making practices less contact and more technical to prevent these issues.

Sports are adapting to become healthier. Athletes need to recognize this and help team doctors be able to diagnose the injury. Similar to the way athletes are taught sportsmanship, they need to be taught to take responsibility for their health and be concerned for the conditions they may be able to suffer.

The mind is a very crucial part of life. People will always play sports; therefore, athletes should always be aware of their health. The care of the mind will carry an athlete past their sports careers.

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