The Dangers of Concussions
Over half of the kids at Valley play sports, and, according to athletic trainer Andy Gordon, between 15 and 20 of those kids will get a concussion sometime during the year.
Professional football players are living shorter lives or suffering brain damage because of their line of work. Getting knocked around a field all day can lead to some serious brain problems, and former Chicago Bears safety, Dave Duerson, is a prime example. Duerson committed suicide and donated his brain to science so that scientists could find the connection between concussions and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a dangerous brain disease that doctors have been trying to link to football injuries.
While there are more cases of brain damage in the professional leagues, concussions aren’t something only professional players have to worry about.
“The most dangerous thing concerning concussions is returning before you’re healed,” Gordon said.
A Kansas high school football player, Nathan Stiles, died during a game after getting a concussion earlier that month. Even though Stiles had received permission to play, the concussion obviously hadn’t healed yet.
Valley freshman Madison Wallace received a concussion while playing indoor soccer this winter. She was benched for three months.
“I was thrown against the wall and hit my head,” Wallace explained. “The worst part was that I felt really dizzy and nauseous.”
Valley is taking many precautions to try to minimize the danger of brain damage by having their athletes take concussion tests. ImPACT is a test that students take before they start playing a sport. It judges your memory and reaction time so if you receive a concussion while playing a sport, you can take the test again and see how badly your brain was damaged.
There are many myths surrounding concussions. One common misconception is that you shouldn’t fall asleep. Brain swelling can occur after a concussion, but it has nothing to do with sleeping. If someone has a concussion you should let them go to sleep, but wake them up every 30 to 60 minutes and ask them basic questions about their identity or location.
“Helmets don’t protect your head from concussions, only damaged skulls.” Gordon said.
Concussions are the result of one’s brain sloshing around in one’s head, and nothing but precaution can protect one from them. Helmets give football players a false sense of security, and this causes even more brain damage. The safest thing to do would be to revoke their helmets temporarily, thereby prompting them to think more about the danger of colliding with someone.
Concussions can also affect your work ethic and performance in school.
“I couldn’t focus. Sometimes I couldn’t comprehend.” Wallace said
Another myth about concussions is that it takes a week to heal. There is no universal time constraint for healing, and when your brain is scrambled, it can be extremely difficult to focus in the classroom, as well as on the field.
While people may not realize how serious concussions can be, in reality, they cause brain damage, serious mental problems, and even death.