For years, athletes have put themselves in harm’s way by exposing themselves to injuries. Arguably the most controversial and perhaps most long-term injuries are concussions. “A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury,” Marian Athletic Trainer Melissa Brusnahan said. Many athletic organizations, such as the National Football League (NFL), are trying to create regulations that prevent the cause of concussions.
The NFL has agreed to a new settlement, put into place on Jan. 7, which states that they will compensate around 20,000 ex-players who received brain damage while playing professional football. The settlement, according to NPR, is estimated to cost the league $1 billion over 65 years. Former players claim that the NFL did not properly acknowledge what they knew about the link between playing football and various brain diseases, nor did they make any adequate actions to prevent them.
Concussions go beyond professional sports. Many athletes at the lower level receive concussions ranging from minor to severe.
Senior Madeline Shaffer has received three concussions during her athletic career of playing both basketball and soccer.
“When I got my second concussion at the Ralston Arena during a basketball game, my vision was all blurry, and I don’t really remember much of what happened besides the film from the game,” Shaffer said.
Distorted vision and memory loss are only a few of the many symptoms concussions cause. “There are many symptoms of a concussion ranging from physical, mental, social and emotional. Obvious symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, noise sensitivity, becoming more emotional, isolation, balance troubles and sleep pattern disruption,” Brusnahan said.
Marian agrees with the effort needed to identify concussions to allow athletes to recover as soon as possible through implementing concussion baseline testing. Athletes of sports ranging from higher contact, basketball and soccer, to lower contact, golf and swimming, are to take the computer-based program at the beginning of each season. In the circumstance of a concussion occurring, an athlete is required to retake the test to determine whether her brain is healed enough before returning to playing in their respective sport.
While concussions can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health, trainers and professionals are trying the best they can to assist injured athletes in the recovery process. “Overall, the best way to recover is rest, both physical and mental,” Brusnahan said.
“You don’t really do a whole lot besides rest and stay away from electronics and light, then just work back into activities and try to decrease the headaches,” Shaffer said, recounting her recovery experience.
With concussions becoming a prominent topic of worry, it is expected that more steps will be taken towards preventing them. For now, athletes try to stay careful in order to avoid an injury that directly affects their brain.
“I’m just super cautious when I play basketball and soccer, and try to protect my head as much as possible,” Shaffer said.
The movement to assist athletes receiving concussions grows stronger every day with baseline testing and rulings that provide financial support.