NFL Concussion

Millions watched as the St. Louis Rams faced off against the Baltimore Ravens in what served as a showcase for the health drawbacks of repeated hits endured by football players throughout the season. Rams quarterback Case Keenum dropped back to pass in the fourth quarter before being slammed to the ground by a Raven defender. Moments later, as teammates tried to help their quarterback up off the ground, Keenum appeared visibly dizzy and unable to get to his feet. Obvious to everyone watching, Keenum had suffered a severe concussion. However, Keenum remained in the game for the remainder of the fourth quarter. The NFL has protocols for players with concussions, but all those protocols failed to protect the player from himself, knowing that exiting the game would be squandering an opportunity to prove that he can be a professional football player, something he has undoubtedly dreamed of since being a kid.

With social media highlighting player injuries more than ever, and a new movie being released next month starring Will Smith about the beginnings of concussion research, the issue is in the spotlight more than ever. So the question remains: how damaging are concussions?

One study conducted by Johns Hopkins University recruited nine former NFL players ranging in age from 50-80, with the same number of control people who never played football or sustained any head trauma. The researchers conducted brain scans of several types, as well as memory tests on the 18 subjects. The study found that not only did the players have serious abnormalities in their brains, they also suffered from having a worse memory than the control subjects.

Several other studies have been conducted to find similar alarming results, however, the research into the science behind concussions and how to better treat/prevent them is low.  As Phd Paul Comper puts it, “despite the proliferation of neuropsychological research on sports-related concussion over the past decade, the methodological quality of studies appears to be highly variable, with many lacking proper scientific rigour.” Concussion research is not nearly at the levels it needs to be to match the seriousness of the injury.

This is an example of a scientific topic not having enough research to be definitively understood, which is something that leads to harmful consequences for athletes.   

2 thoughts on “NFL Concussion

  1. Diego

    This is one of the best blogs I’ve read so far. Smart, clear, concise and pleasing to the eye. First of all, I am naturally interested in this because I used to play football as a running back when I was younger for 12 years, and as many people know, in the little leagues there tends to be way more running than passes, so I had to withstand every hit to the head that came almost to every run. As I grew older the hits were getting more serious, as well as possible risks of concussion. Fortunately, I never had the hardship of experiencing a concussion firsthand. But there were time where I certainly received real hard hits to the head.
    The study you talked about was surprising even though it’s kind of obvious what the outcome was going to be. And I guess this might be because of how everyone might see professional sports as this very controlled and harmless activity for its players. Probably all the media we see now a days, 24/7 on football and how everybody talks about it, some more than others, contributes to the formation of the ideal that everything is perfect in the world of the NFL.
    I also really like when professional references are made like the one you wrote about Phd Paul Comper, which by the way, was certainly a revealing claim.
    You used a scientific study, a professional claim, and to wrap it up you used highly recent developments on this matter by mentioning Will Smith’s upcoming movie. There simply was no other way you could’ve made this blog more credible, interesting and pleasant. The rhetoric is impressive. Hope I’ll find other blogs like this one.

  2. Philip Littleton

    Great blog, Aidan. Concussions and head injuries have been a huge liability in sports, especially in football over the years. I really liked how you integrated the new Will Smith movie into your blog, as well. Consumer Health Day says “the researchers found that during the 2012 and 2013 seasons 1,198 concussions occurred — almost 12 percent of them among youth athletes, 66 percent among high school players, and 22 percent on the college field.” Obviously this is an issue that needs to be resolved, but I imagine that Will Smith’s new movie will attract awareness about this issue and help protect football players around the nation.

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