The Need to Reevaluate Concussion Protocol in Sports

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Table of Contents

  • Concussions in Sports
  • Literature Review
  • Final Thoughts

Concussions in Sports

Throughout the years, concussions have become much more prevalent and very life threatening because of the evolution of sports and the limit on how far equipment can be advanced. Each year athletes are finding ways to become bigger, faster and stronger and better at their individual sport. With that being said, the equipment being used cannot completely protect from serious injuries because it has been advanced as much as possible for the time being. Concussions have always been a risk within sports, especially contact sports like football or hockey, but within the last decade or so they have become much more prevalent. A concussion is temporary unconsciousness caused by a blow to the head. The term is also used loosely of the aftereffects such as confusion or temporary incapacity. It is often very dangerous because it can very easily go undiagnosed and another concussion can occur which can lead to a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) or even be deadly in some cases.

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Literature Review

In a study published by Boston University, its found that repetitive blows to the head can lead to not only a concussion, but also to CTE which is a debilitating brain disease. This arose the question whether the current concussion protocol is effective enough or if a new concussion protocol needs to be brought to the table. The study done involved younger athletes playing contact sports. Even without revealing symptoms of a concussion, a postmortem examination of four teenaged brains showed their to being instant trauma to the brain. These studies being very concerning, it brought the question whether or not there is a moral obligation to protect children from these dangers by not allowing them to play until they hit a certain age, kind of like driving a car or being able to legally drink alcohol. This study showed why about 20% of patients diagnosed with CTE had never reported having a concussion or having symptoms of a concussion (Periz, 2018). All four brains studied, two being 17 and two being 18, either died from brain trauma or suicide. “Ann Mckee, director of Boston University's CTE Center, said there remains only one surefire way to limit risk of CTE. ‘'There must be a reduction in the number of head impacts.'’ Although reducing the number of impacts to the head is a very difficult thing to control and reduce, without it the issue can only get progressively worse until an action is taken.

In a second article written by USA Today, it discussed how the concussion protocol needs more evaluation because of the risk it puts on severely injured players. Although one goes through a concussion protocol, they usually can and will pass the exam because an athlete can easily act normal through the exam to get back to playing as soon as possible. Specifically, this article discussed Jacoby Brissett of the Indianapolis Colts (USA, 2017). During a game, he went limp after a hit to the head and looked lifeless. He was helped to his feet and then brought to the locker room for the NFL’s concussion protocol. Many people thought he was done for the day, but then in the 4th quarter he returned to field and finished the game. It wasn’t until after the game where he was officially placed in concussion protocol. People tend to not take concussions as seriously as they should because it is not an injury you can physically see so the significance of the injury is severely undermined. This is an issue because there is either a flaw in the concussion protocol for the NFL or athletes are getting special treatment because their teams need them. Either way the result can be very debilitating and/or deadly and there needs to be a plan implemented for athletes with concussion like symptoms so the injury doesn’t become life threatening.

Final Thoughts

It is very clear now that concussions are much more serious now than they once were even though they are still being greatly overlooked. In both articles I chose to review, it discussed not only that head trauma leads to concussions, but studies have also shown that it leads to CTE which is very serious and often ends up in brain trauma and/or death. The concussion protocol needs to be reevaluated and certain strides need to be made to hopefully reduce the number of incident regarding brain injuries in the future.   

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