A Concussion Problem

by Bryan U on December 2, 2012 - 4:58pm

A growing problem in the world of today's athletics is the injury known as the concussion.  Concussions are a problem at all levels, from the youth leagues all the way up to the professional sports leagues like the NFL and NHL.  From my point of view, concussions are extremely important and need to b e focused on more by medical professionals and other specialists in head injuries.  My interest lies in what people are doing to cut back on this looming problem in athletics.  Being an athlete myself, concussions are an issue that I would like to be looked at more and more.  I have been fortunate to avoid suffering a concussion, but I have had teammates around me suffer concussions.  Seeing the impact it had on people around me first-hand only fuels my interest in making advancements in the studies and treatment of concussions.  A concussion, specifically, is an injury to the brain and can be caused by even the slightest bump to the head.  According to the U.S. emergency departments (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2012), approximately 173,285 people aged 19 and under suffer a concussion each year and that number has increased by 60 percent for that age group over the last decade.  This increase is an extreme problem, as is the fact that and individual that suffers a concussion has a better chance of suffering another concussions.  Multiple concussions can lead to chronic issues in life down the line, including headaches, depression, and even death.  Concussions can lead to issues with educational ability as well, another reason for which concussions need to be studied more in the culture that is today's athletics.


Concussions have increased so much in today's athletics due to the ability to become stronger and faster through the use of weightlifting and the use of technology.  This creates the problem with concussions because larger, faster, stronger players are coming into contact with each other, causing concussions in many cases.  Like me, many people ask, what is being done to take care of the large issue that is concussions in sports?  One action that already has been taken is that by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) started in April 2010.  The policy created was done with the help of the high schools that are members of the NJSIAA, and the individual schools were recommended to create their own policy as well.  One focus of this policy was educating individuals on how to deal with concussion situations.  It was made mandatory that any individual who has any involvement with sports at a high school must have proof that they have gone through training in dealing with concussions.  The last part of the policy focused on the guidelines for when an athlete who suffers a concussion should return to play.  In this part of the policy, it states that any athlete who has concussion-like symptoms must be removed from the athletic competition immediately.  The NJSIAA also implemented a six-step plan that any athlete who suffers a concussion must go through before being cleared.  It is a progressive plan that begins with complete rest from the sport up until full participation is resumed.  This policy allows for the prevention of multiple concussions in athletes, which can have long-term issues like mentioned in the above paragraph.  The NJSIAA's policy focuses on the safety of athletes in the State of New Jersey and their health down the road, which is why it is able to make a difference in high school athletics.


The next step in dealing with the concussion process is implementing policies that do not deal with just the treatment of concussions, when it comes to sports.  There needs to be policies put into effect that focus on concussions and how individuals should be involved with other aspects of life like education and driving.  There needs to be a step by step process that lays out, similar to returning to sports, when and individual should return to full learning ability in education and full driving ability.  Performing both of the above activities while not fully recovered from a concussion can have a great impact on the individual.  Returning immediately to learning after a concussion can cause further problems with concussion symptoms, like headaches.  This will only push back the recovery time for education and sports.  The same should be done for driving, for it can affect the individual, along with the person around them.  People who suffer concussions can have sensitivity to lights and sounds around them, which could create problems around them.  Car accidents can result from these symptoms, which is why a policy for driving with a concussion should be put into effect.  Policies like these should be the focus of New York State and their education and driving departments.  New York has forced all schools to put concussions policies into effect in an effort to treat concussions in athletics more effectively.  There are no current policies controlling concussions when it comes to driving and education.  The New York State Education Department should force schools to create policies regarding learning after suffering a concussion.  Similarly, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles should put policies into effect as well.  Putting policies into effect in all areas of life would ensure the safety of the individual with the concussion as well as the people around them.  This is the key to controlling concussions for focusing on concussions does not just involve the athletics part of life.  It involves many other social aspects of life as well.


References


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  2012.  "Concussion in Sports and Play: Get the Facts."  Retrieved September 8, 2012 (www.cdc.gov/concussion/sports/facts.html).


Medical Advisory Board of the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association.  2010.  "Concussion Identification, Management and Return-to-Play."  New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association.  Retrieved November 14, 2012 (http://www.sbschools.org/schools/sbhs/athletics/docs/concussion_packet.pdf).