The number of concussions in professional and amateur football has been rising and has sparked much controversy in recent years. These concussions are most likely linked with disease and even the deaths of some pro and semi-pro football players. New research is attempting to solve the problem but the issue is still prevalent in football today.
To understand the issue of concussions in the NFL we must first understand exactly what a concussion is. A concussion is a minor traumatic brain injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Severe concussions can cause loss of consciousness and/or forgetfulness. However, you do not need to lose consciousness to have a concussion. Minor concussions usually cause headache, nausea, dizziness, and tiredness. An NFL study showed that most concussions occur when one player delivered a hit to the side of the head of another, and when the player was either standing still or moving slowly. These hits that cause concussions pack an average force of 980-pounds. Concussions affect professional athletes as well as amateur or youth football players. Studies have shown that high school football players are nearly twice as likely to get concussions as college football players and high school athletes in other sports. Also, they show that 47% of high school football players say they suffer a concussion each season. As a result about 250,000 people under the age of 19 went to the emergency room with concussions in 2009, compared with 150,000 in 2001.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a degenerative disease of the brain linked to symptoms of dementia and depression. Some other symptoms of CTE include: amnesia, aggression, violence, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts. It is one of the most common long-term effects of concussions. CTE is infamously known for connections to multiple deaths of NFL, college, and even high school football players. Most notably were the recent suicidal deaths of Junior Seau, Ray Easterling, and Andre Waters. These 3 former players were all diagnosed with CTE post-mortem. The disease is caused by a build-up of an abnormal protein, named tau, which strangles brain cells. To this day, CTE has no known cure. However, it can be reversed, slowed down, or even stopped. Though there is a link between concussions and CTE, science has not proven that concussions are a direct cause of CTE. It has quickly risen as a concerning effect of repeat concussions in modern day football.
Many private companies and researchers have taken the issue of concussions head on. Research has drastically increased throughout the 21st century. In the words of Mark Lovell PhD. founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program, “90% of what we know about concussions we’ve learned in the past five years.” These private researchers have taken different approaches to...