American football, which has been coined as America’s new past time, could be argued as the greatest sport on the planet or at least in the US. Unfortunately, due to it’s very violent nature, it is also our most dangerous sport. With constant contact and crushing blows, this modern game of warriors has given way to a devastating brain injury that could have future complications for our youth. An estimated 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries are reported in the United States each year. With concussions increasing in youth football; PTs, OTs, and SLPs will play an even bigger role in the treatment and education of this scary brain injury.
A concussion is caused when the brain is shaken so forcefully that it hits the inside of the skull, resulting in brain trauma. Handfuls of studies have contributed to the growing concern of head injuries, particularly concussions, in the game of American football and other contact sports.
One such organization is starting to take this brain injury seriously, as well as steps to show that it’s not being taken lightly. Dr. Robert Cantu, Director of Sports Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Senior Advisor to the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee suggests, For reasons that remain unclear to experts, getting one concussion makes a person more prone to getting further concussions in the future.€ According to a study by Cantu and published in Neurosurgery, American football players who sustained three or more concussions were significantly more likely to develop depression had five times a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2009, the NFL instituted a new policy where players could not return to a game or practice on the same day they exhibit concussion symptoms, including confusion, gap in memory, abnormal neurological exam, persistent headache or loss of consciousness. And in 2010, the NFL took its policies one step further by charging hefty fines to players for particularly violent or flagrant hits, particularly blows to the head. Many doctors say they want to change the level of aggression that is a part of football.
On 3/16/2011, Brain Injury Awareness Day, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall and New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell unveiled a bipartisan bill, called the Children’s Sports Athletic Equipment Safety Act. It aims to protect young football players, ages 18 and younger, from the dangers of sports-related brain injuries, directs the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to determine with respect to standards submitted by a voluntary standards-setting organization regarding youth football helmets, reconditioned helmets, and new.
The legislation specifically focuses on the use of older helmets, which gradually wear out and offer less head and brain protection as years of hard play go by. If passed, the bill would order that new and reconditioned helmets must be tested by a third party to ensure their safety. The legislation also specifically addresses the prevention of concussions in children younger than 12.
As a Rehab Professional you can aid in the proper diagnosis of concussions as well as the early treatment that can help young athletes recover more quickly. A group called Kentucky Orthopaedics and Rehab Team has developed a new Concussion Management Program. As the leading provider of on-site sports medicine to area schools, we are constantly looking for ways to help our student athletes recover and return to play as quickly and safely as possible,€ said Doug Means, KORT Director of Sports Medicine. Our concussion management program will help us more accurately monitor a player’s condition and give the physician more information to aid him or her in managing the athlete’s recovery.€
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