The Word On Campus
By: Jason Haley
Photos by: Thomas O’hara
By: Jason Haley
Photos by: Thomas O’hara
Submission By Alexis Schumacher
The chances of coming across an injury while participating in sports is very high. Doctors see a wide range of trauma, from ankle sprains to broken bones. Recent studies show that even small injuries can turn out to be consequential and detrimental.
While sprains and broken bones are temporary, the head trauma football players experience is everlasting. Headaches, confusion, and fatigue are a few common symptoms across many football players. To everyday players and medical staff members, these symptoms are ordinary. But lately players in the National Football League are experiencing the side effects of a concussion, diagnosed or undiagnosed, from earlier in their careers. Reports indicate that the number of players who have retired from the NFL are now suffering from memory loss and “cognitive issues such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.” Could these issues arising have to do the strenuous work of practice, the drive to continue to play a game, or the misjudgment of medical staff?
Members of the NFL are noticing a pattern with teammates who have either left the league or have died due to head trauma. The players begin to be concerned for their own health issues due to this intense sport, fearing their coaches and medical team may be improperly diagnosing their injuries. Is the risk of this trauma worth the love of the game?
Many football players have been victims of brain damage. In 2002, the former well-known center of the Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Webster suffered from damage so severe that at age 50 he committed suicide. Former Chicago Bears Dave Duerson committed suicide on Feb. 11, 2011, at age 50 with a gunshot wound to the chest. During both autopsies Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, was found in their brains. CTE has been found in the brain of many other deceased NFL players.
CTE, is “a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma.” The definition of this does not necessarily mean just a handful of concussions, but repetitive head impacts of “hundreds or thousands.” Those who participate in football expose their brains to repetitive trauma. With brain vulnerability exposure, it increases the risk of CTE in athletes. Diagnosis of CTE can only happen after death through a brain analysis.
Medical staff members identify that CTE has become a rising issue with many football players. The NFL is now going to enforce new rules and regulations due to the rising head trauma issues. One new precaution implemented is medical tents on the sidelines. The tents allow medical staff members to immediately look at and address a problem with a player. The NFL is working to improve the sidelines to help keep the players healthy throughout the season. “On average, there are 29 healthcare providers at a stadium on game day to provide immediate care. In conjunction with the NFLPA, the league has added unaffiliated medical personnel and adopted new technology to assist in the identification and review of injuries, with a specific focus on concussions. Every club’s medical staff has instant access to their players’ complete medical records via the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.”
Alexis Schumacher is a Senior Communications Major at PSUA
Citations and references for this work are:
CNN, (2017, August 28). NFL Concussion Fast Facts. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/30/us/nfl-concussions-fast-facts/index.html
Legacy Foundation. What is CTE?. Retrieved from https://concussionfoundation.org/CTE-resources/what-is-CTE?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI_p-T2auC1gIVBqppCh1NWQAQEAAYASAAEgKiLPD_BwE
NFL, (2017, May 11). Behind-the-Scenes with the NFL Medical Committees at the Combine. Experts Focus on Health and Safety. Retrieved from https://www.playsmartplaysafe.com/newsroom/videos/behind-scenes-nfl-medical-committees-combine/