With the NFL season just starting, I decided to make this blog about one of the biggest ongoing problems in the NFL right now. The debate over concussions has been going on for years and it has been concluded that concussions can cause some permanent brain damage. So now the question of whether or not it’s worth it arises. Some people say yes and some people say no. My blog will be an opinionated or biased piece but it will inform you enough for you to make your own decision.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/the-autopsy-that-changed-football/ Author: Jason M Breslow
So what exactly is a concussion? Well, according to the CDC website, a concussion is a MTBI ( Mild traumatic brain injury) that is caused by a hit to the head or by violent shaking of the head and body. Clearly in the NFL, each player receives a countless amount of hits/blows to the head, not even counting the ones they received in their high school and college careers. However, treating concussions is easy. You do not continue to play the sport until all concussion symptoms are gone. Sounds harmless, right? That is what everyone thought until Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in football players and its link to head trauma caused by football (Breslow). In 2002, Dr. Omalu was assigned to conduct the autopsy of Mike Webster, former steelers center. When examining the brain, he noticed CTE, which is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain ( Boston University Website). This finding was huge was later linked to concussions and repeated hard hits to the head. I could go into much more details about his discoveries but I want to focus more on concussions in the NFL today and how they are preventing more brain injuries. But in essence, this is how concussions became such a large problem.
So what measures are the NFL taking to prevent more and more injuries? Well they are doing multiple things. From personal knowledge, helmets are getting more safe because the pads in the helmet absorb more and more of the shock from the hits. When I was in high school, every year a representative from Riddell ( the company who supplied our helmets ) would give a presentation to our whole team each season describing how the pads in the helmet were more shock absorbing. Riddell is one of the two companies who supplies the NFL with helmets. The other is Xenith. To get a more in depth look at the technology of these helmets, you can just visit their websites. Another precaution that the NFL is taking is that they are introducing more penalties to protect players from helmet to helmet collisions (NFL.com).
These precautions are not only being implemented at the professional level, as these new penalties have also been introduced to the college and high school level.