Expanding Concussion Testing in the NFL

What Interested me in Concussion Testing?

As a pre-nursing major, I have always been interested in the medical field. However, with so many varieties of topics that can fall under the category of the medical field how did I ever come to be concerned with concussions? Well, this all started my junior year of high school when I decided to study Sports Medicine. While learning about concussions, injuries, anatomy, and evaluations, I suddenly fell in love with our program. Towards the end of the year, I had the opportunity to try out to be a football trainer, and luckily, I was able to experience being a football trainer my senior year. Being exposed to sports medicine as well as football was one of the best learning experiences I had come across throughout my high school career. Combining football and concussions under one topic was a two in one for me. The more I learn about both topics, the more I love it even more, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do just that.

What makes concussions so important to the medical field and football?

Concussions may seem like a temporary injury, but the effects that could be caused by a concussion can affect a person forever. Football is known to be the one sport that causes the most concussions, and while we cannot completely omit football forever we can focus more on how we can prevent and treat concussions through the medical field. Why spend more time studying Concussions? Take in this story of a former NFL player, Willie Wood who claims he does not remember one bit of playing in the NFL. “New York Times: Willie Wood Made the Most Memorable Play of Super Bowl I. He Has No Recollection”. tells the story and explains, “He does not even recollect playing in the first Super Bowl, on Jan. 15, 1967, or ever being on an N.F.L. roster.” To be in the super bowl is already a great accomplishment but it means nothing if you can’t remember it. Another article, Football, So Beautiful for Fans, Scars Players With Dementia says, “The damage and research continue. A study last fall by the Mayo Clinic found C.T.E. in the brains of 21 of 66 men who played contact sports — mostly football — but no traces in 198 other men who did not play contact games. C.T.E.’s growing shadow across football extends to collegiate and high school programs, which should be increasingly concerned.” If we can’t omit football the next biggest action we can take is to expand more concussion tests so that we can prevent further damages to untreated concussions.

What Benefits will take place if we Expand Concussion Testing?

By expanding concussion tests through High Schools, Colleges, and the NFL we could prevent and treat miss diagnosed concussions. We can prevent concussions like Ken Stabler suffered from in which an article, Football, So Beautiful for Fans, Scars Players With Dementia b​y The Editorial Board​e​xplains, “S​o it was for the great quarterback K​en Stabler,​who directed that his brain be studied to find out why his mind seemed to slip so precipitously in his final years. Stabler was found to have suffered from Stage 3 C.T.E., with lesions “quite severe, affecting many regions of the brain,” according to Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System, where pioneering research is being done.” To give you a short definition of what a C.T.E is, it stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy which is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. Some symptoms that go along with CTE is memory loss, confusion, aggression, depression, and dementia. If this was diagnosed long before he had signs and symptoms this injury wouldn’t have gone to a worse stage like CTE. Having more concussion tests will constantly make sure that athletes are safe to play football. An article, The N.F.L.’s Next Play: Address Brain Trauma of Fade Away says, “The failure of the league to take effective actions to protect the brains of current players puts it into willful­negligence territory. Other than increasing some on­field penalties, the league has done almost nothing to protect players now or in the future.” For this reason, we should start now to make a difference and keep these athletes in a safe place. If we don’t, further injuries may occur and many more athletes will suffer through injuries most couldn’t even imagine going through.

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