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Ryan Moore

Ryan Moore

Mr. Claxton

Cause and Effect Essay

November 20, 2018

The long-term effects of concussions

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. The number of children who had a concussion raised fifty-seven percent from 2001-2009 (“Concussions”). About 300,000 occur per year due to sports,and 1.6-3.8 million annually. However, concussions can also occur from car crashes, accidental falls, and physical altercations. No matter what happens, a concussion is a brain injury and takes time to heal. Even a small concussion can have short-term and long-term effects (“Concussions”). The more concussions you get the more likely you are to suffer long term effects. Playing contact sports are not worth the potential life ending injuries.

A major long term effect of concussion is CTE. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma. CTE caused by repetitive blows to the head as a result of playing football was brought to light in 2002 by Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-American physician and forensic pathologist, who discovered the condition during an autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steelers player Mike Webster. This finding, as well as his subsequent reports of CTE in other deceased NFL players, eventually led to the book and later the 2015 film, Concussion (Helper).There is no sure diagnosis for CTE yet, the only way to find the disease is during an autopsy. Scientist are working to find a way to diagnose during life.

Mike Webber, the first former football player to be diagnosed with CTE, played in the NFL for 16 years. He played in 245 games as a center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After his retirement Webster had multiple mental problems including amnesia, dementia, and depression. Multiple doctors have estimated that playing football for twenty- five years for Webster was equivalent to 25,000 car crashes. (Wikipedia)

There is no treatment for CTE, the only way to prevent it is to avoid repeated head injuries. Ones with symptoms of CTE may benefit with the same care that Alzheimer’s patients receive. Signs of CTE include memory loss, personality changes, aggression, focus loss, and a hard time with balancing and simple motor skills. It also has been linked with depression, suicidal behavior, poor impulse control, aggressiveness, parkinsonism, and, eventually, dementia. Mike Webster was effected so bad from this disease that he was living in his car and was abnormally hostile.

Concussions also have some other long term effects that are not as bad as CTE. They include headaches, vertigo, Post-concussion syndrome, and second impact syndrome. Some headaches can last weeks to a month. Vertigo is another effect. Vertigo makes everything spin for days, weeks, or even months. In patients who sustain a second concussion when the first one has not fully healed, the brain loses its ability to auto regulate intracranial and cerebral perfusion pressure. This may lead to cerebral edema (severe swelling of the brain) and possible brain herniation (Second). Most of the time this happens in youth sports such as boxing, football, and hockey. If an athlete suffers a concussion they should stay out of sports until the symptoms from the concussion are gone. Second impact syndrome could be fatal. Second impact syndrome involves brain herniation and could lead to death in minutes. However someone with the syndrome could be stabilized with focus on airway management. Depending on how severe it is, brain surgery may be required. In cases where second impact syndrome is not fatal is will have the same effects as a traumatic brain injury.

The NCAA reported that the injury rate for football is 8.1 injuries per 1000 athletes. There were 41,000 injuries and 25 million athletes from the 2004/2005- 2008-2009 season. Concussions accounted for 7.4 percent of injuries. A concussion can still happen with a helmet on. Recognition and proper response to concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death.

Because there is so much concern over concussions, the NCAA is working on making the game of football at the collegiate level a safer game. Multiple playing rules have been installed to make a safer environment. Schools must also have a concussion management plan in place. A management plan is in place to help improve the prevention, identification, and assessment of concussions at the collegiate level. The NCAA and the Department of Defence have invested thirty million dollars to investigate the long term effects of concussions. They are also looking into what happens between the moment of the concussion and the time of recovery.

In conclusion, contact sports are not worth the potential life ending injuries that can result from playing them. The cons definitely outweighs the pros. Although playing a sport such as football is amazing to play, as well as a getting safer every day, there is still always a risk of getting a concussion. Playing football for multiple years has an even higher risk of getting a concussion. Short term effects of a concussion include, headache, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and sensitivity to light. The long term effect can be life threatening and playing contact sports should fun not life threatening. One major long-term effect of concussions is Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This is found among people who have had multiple head injuries or concussions. It causes depression, suicidal behavior, poor impulse control, aggressiveness, parkinsonism, and, eventually, dementia. Mike Webster, the first former football diagnosed with CTE, became depressed and had dementia. CTE can not be diagnosed while someone is alive. CTE can only be found during post mortem brain exam. Another long term effect of concussions is Second Impact Syndrome. This is from sustaining a second concussion after the first one has not fully healed. This could result in a hernia in the brain which is fatal and could result in death or emergency brain surgery. Overall, playing sports should be fun. Players should not have to worry about a life threatening injury or a long term medical problem simply from playing sports. Players should think twice before getting involved in contact sports