The question of brain injury resulting from concussions, which has for years been seen in victims of car accidents, has now become an issue for the National Football League. Even professional athletes wearing helmets are capable of sustaining a concussion resulting in brain damage.
Two members of National Football League’s medical committee studying the effects of concussions recently quit after the players’ union complained about their bias toward minimizing the impact of these types of injuries to the brain.
The NFL, according to a recent memo, is looking into modifications to rules and equipment to reduce head injuries. Teams are now required to hire independent neurologists who must concur with a team physician’s decision to allow a player to return to the field after a concussion.
Last month the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on head injuries in football, with Goodell and players’ union Executive Director DeMaurice Smith among those testifying. Smith told Congress that the NFL ignored a decade of research showing a connection between on-field injury and post-career mental illness.
Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a recent example of the increasing attention paid to concussions. Roethlisberger is now feeling better and without symptoms after sustaining a mild concussion in the November 22 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He is expected to play November 29 against the Baltimore Ravens according to coach Mike Tomlin. Since 2006, Roethlisberger had three other concussions. “The battery of tests that he took showed that he showed no symptoms,” Tomlin stated. “We’ll continue to monitor his condition and where he is on a day-to-day basis and let that guide our decision-making.”
With professional players becoming bigger, stronger and faster, violent collisions in football are occurring with ever more frequency. In the past, the NFL has tried to downplay the brain damage that can result to players from concussions. However, there have been a number of documented instances of former NFL players who developed symptoms of brain damage after sustaining concussions during their playing days. The NFL Players Association has taken up this cause of brain injury resulting from concussions, forcing the league to respond. The resignation of the two members on the committe is the just initial response by the league. Expect to see rule changes increasing the penalties to players who deliver blows to the head.
This issue of brain injuries resulting from concussions to professional football players, brings us back to the damage that can result to people in car accidents who suffer concussions. In the right type of impact, the trauma to an accident’s victim head can be similar to that sustained in football and this person is not even wearing a helment. It is important following any accident where there is a trauma to the head, automobile or otherwise, that the injured person follow up with the appropriate medical treatment which may include CAT scans of the head.
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