Dealing with the invisible crippler
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
Every football season, players gamble with their health and increase their chances of injury every time they step out onto the field. Among the most serious injuries they can encounter are concussions, which at first may only produce short-term symptoms such as headaches and a few minutes of amnesia and later produce excessive brain trauma.
A concussion is the result of an impact that rapidly accelerates one’s head, causing the brain to strike the inner skull multiple times.
The severity of concussions are rated on a three-level grading scale, with effects ranging from post traumatic amnesia with no loss of conscious to loss of consciousness for more than five minutes, and amnesia for more than 24 hours.
Identifying the underestimated severity of concussions, the National Collegiate Athletic Association passed a set of guidelines in April of 2010.
The guidelines presented college sports team with a concussion management plan, which included that all athletes must be informed of concussion symptoms at the start of each season, sign a statement agreeing to report concussion-related symptoms to the medical staff and that athletes cannot return to play until a team of doctors clears them to participate once the symptoms have been resolved.
With the new guidelines in place, 42 league concussions were reported during the 2010-2011 season compared to the 23 concussions reported in the previous season.
“Thankfully, I have never experienced a concussion, but I have seen a couple of players, who have,” senior center Eloy Atkinson said. “Their reactions are usually dizziness and awkward movements. You can just tell they are not all there.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, all football players have a 75 percent chance to obtain a concussion because of an estimated 900 to 1,500 blows to the head they will receive during a season.
Junior defensive lineman Germard Reed said he’s had to sit out two games due to a concussion.
“At the time of each concussion I could not really remember a lot and had many headaches,” Reed said. “I was scared because it is really alarming how you can bang your head, and lose memory like that. Concussions can really hurt someone mentally and physically but I love the game so I take my chances and continue to play.”
Understanding the seriousness of concussions, UTEP gives all players a test before the start of every season.
“I think it is everyone’s job to look out for concussions, the players, the coaches and the doctors,”head coach Mike Price said. A concussion is such a serious problem, there are so many symptoms that they have and you can usually tell, so we have to go that extra step to ensure the safety of our players.”
At UTEP, when players are diagnosed with a concussion they must complete a week long screening, constructed with memory tests. The impact tests focus on a player’s remembrance of specific sequences.
All players must successfully pass the screening before they are cleared to play again. Failure to pass will result in another week exempt from play.
“Concussions are a serious injury in collision football and everyone has to address it as so,” Price said. “Every concussion is severe. There is no such thing as a slight concussion so we’re constantly watching out for symptoms. Concussions usually last one week, but can last as long as two weeks, so they can keep a player out of the game for a good amount of time, and some players might lie about their state because they want to play so we need be observant of everyone.”
Audrey Westcott may be reached at email@example.com.