In recent years, it has seemed like more and more kids are getting concussions. The question has been raised whether it is that football hits are getting harder, or if doctors are getting better at recognizing and diagnosing them. Modern technologies now allow athletic trainers, coaches, parents, and doctors to diagnose and rehabilitate the players who have received these injuries. A concussion is defined as, according to the Mayo Clinic, “a brain injury caused by trauma directly to the head or transmitted to the brain from a force to the body.” With that in mind, it’s easy to pick out times when we remember someone getting “knocked out” or other dramatic scenes of brain injuries. While these are scary images, something even more chilling is the idea that equally serious damage can be done that is invisible to the untrained eye.
Myth: A concussion is only serious when the player is “out cold”
The brain is a floating three-pound organ within adults. It lives within the cushion of cerebrospinal fluid behind about an inch of protective bone. When you get hit in the head, inertia pushes the delicate brain into the interior of the skull, and then forcefully recoils to the opposite side of the head. These two impacts, combined, cause a concussion.
Not all concussions are knockouts, but all knockouts are concussions. Even if it is very brief, the loss of consciousness means the hit caused extreme pressure in the head. Earlier, just getting “shook up” a little on the field meant toughing it out and “rubbing some dirt on it”. Those days have passed. Every concussion is significant, especially if there have been concussions in the past. Repeat injuries to the head increases the likelihood of mild cognitive impairments, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and even more crippling disabilities later in life. It is crucial that athletes stay out of the game for the recommended amount of time.
When someone is knocked out, it is usually after a number of consecutive blows, and it is can often have long-term consequences. While it is possible to get knocked out by a single hit, the mechanics of the brain are speedy to recover and can rebound from one hit fairly quickly. When the hits are repetitive, a knockout is far more likely.
Debunked: A concussion is rarely detected from visual tests.
When a player suffers a hard hit, he or she should be examined immediately. Once the player is removed from the play, he or she should seek medical attention from the athletic trainer at the game or practice. There are a number of different methods that can be used to determine if an athlete has a concussion, and the medical professional will be the most familiar with these. After the player is examined, the coach should alert the parent or guardian of the injury and make sure they know the warning signs of concussions.
If you think the athlete has sustained a concussion, the things to look for are if the player (usually recognized by the coach):
- Appears dazed or stunned,
- Is confused about the position he or she is playing,
- Forgets plays that they previously knew,
- Doesn’t remember who they are playing, or the score of the game,
- Loses consciousness, even briefly,
- Is not acting like him or herself,
- Has trouble remembering what things happened just prior to the hit or fall.
If the hard hit was not immediately noticed, things to look for at home would be if the player (usually recognized by the player):
- Is sensitive to light or noise,
- Has a headache or feels pressure in the head,
- Is vomiting or is suffering from nausea,
- Cannot concentrate or recall things consistently or accurately,
- Has problems with balance,
- Blurry or double vision,
- Is unusually sluggish or lazy.
New technologies have offered us a clearer insight to the severity of the impact of a hit. Research has developed a sensor that is embedded into the helmet of a football player. When a dangerous hit occurs, the coach is alerted and the player is tested for concussion symptoms.
This revolutionary tool will allow athletes to play longer, and will hopefully increase longevity for the professional sports stars. Many former NFL players with dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other brain disorders have sued the NFL for not properly alerting the players to the dangers of playing football long-term. The sensor will be placed in the helmets of all football players, which sounds foolproof, but this is not without controversy: some people claim this may give athletes a false sense of security.
Although many sportswear companies boast the safest helmets, extensive research has not definitively proven this. The brand of helmet does not make a difference in the prevention of concussions. These protective pieces can cost up to $400, and with people claiming that each new season requires a new helmet, protecting a football player can cost a pretty penny. However, further research actually shows that the age of the helmet does not directly correlate with the likelihood of a player getting a concussion. These two studies mean that as long as the player is, in fact, wearing a helmet, he or she will be at a safer advantage.
If you or someone you know has experienced a head trauma, specifically a concussion, you should contact the school athletic trainer, or a doctor immediately. As soon as the immediate medical problems are taken care of, it is a good idea to contact your local St. Louis lawyers at Finney Law Office, LLC. Medical bills can be overwhelming, and that’s not what you should be worried about. While you heal from your concussion, you should be focused on returning to the field, or rebuilding your life. Let us take care of the tedious paperwork and legal conversations for you. Our trustworthy, compassionate lawyers will answer your questions in a free consultation, so you’re at no risk when exploring your options.