Now more than ever, the NFL has faced immense criticism and speculation over its growing problem with head trauma and concussions. Multiple players have withdrawn from their leagues over mental health concerns, and too many players have met tragic deaths after brain injuries led them to take their own lives.
Given the growing danger of contact sports, more pressure has been placed on youth sports to significantly decrease the occurrence of concussions.
Concussions qualify as a form of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump or blow to the head. Since they aren’t physically noticeable, it’s tricky to identify exactly when a young athlete has experienced a concussion. In fact, the signs and symptoms listed below may not manifest themselves for days or even weeks after the injury.
Untreated concussions can ultimately lead to impaired physical and neurocognitive functioning. These long-term brain injuries need to be taken seriously.
Signs of a Concussion
Headache, nausea, balance problems, blurry vision, confusion, and memory problems are all very common symptoms of a concussion. Headache and nausea are often signs of other problems, but when paired with any of the other signs and the occurrence of a bump to the head, it’s most likely a concussion has occurred.
Parents might notice their children moving clumsily, answering questions slowly, forgetting more than usual, or appearing dazed. It’s vital to seek medical attention immediately from your local primary care doctor. Long-term brain damage can occur if concussions aren’t treated in a timely manner.
As awareness of the concussion issue has spread, more measures have been put in place to prevent head injuries in youth players. Research is currently in progress to design helmets that more efficiently absorb the shock of a powerful hit that risks hurting the brain.
In football itself, purposeful helmet-first tackling has been banned, and coaches are focusing on exercises that strengthen neck muscles to improve strength and resistance. The biggest accomplishment has been stricter enforcement of medically examining athletes of any age potentially at risk of a concussion before they can return to the game. Proper diagnosis requires more than a few simple questions, so most leagues now require that injured youth sit out the rest of the game to ensure no concussion has occurred, in addition to proper diagnosis from a medical professional.
With any luck, these efforts and future measures will be enough to protect athletes from harm.