As someone who has never had a concussion, my knowledge and experience is limited. My ignorance has made me curious to find out more about the topic of concussions, specifically the long term effects. I’ve seen the Sports Center stories on NFL players who deal with horrible things after many concussions and I wanted to find out what caused the long term trauma.
The common long term result of severe concussions is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. CTE is a disease that cause brain tissue to begin to slowly break down. Clearly that can have serious effects. There are many effects such as memory loss and depression, but the ultimate and most hindering result of CTE is Dementia. The NFL is where CTE is the most relevant. A study was done by scientists in which they examined 91 brains of former NFL players who had passed away for CTE. The results were shocking. Of the players examined 87 of them were diagnosed with CTE.
One of the scariest parts of this disease is the symptoms effects on the victims mindset. Several former players in the NFL who were once normal, functioning human beings took their own lives due to the depression and impulsiveness that CTE causes. The majority of players who end up being diagnosed with CTE are offensive lineman, defensive lineman, linebackers, and running backs because they consistently knock heads play after play.
The question is now what can we do to prevent CTE. Every level of football, from elementary school to professional, has made steps to make the game safer. In practice hitting is limited and in some instances, like the Ivy League, tackling in practice has been completely eliminated. The most important advance in head protection has been the helmet. Every year a new and more sophisticated helmet is engineered to help ease future head trauma. Of course it is impossible to completely stop head injuries in football, it is just a part of the game, but with the new information on CTE this will expedite the process on making football more safe.