By Griffith Jennings
A concussion, a traumatic brain injury which is caused by a blow to the head or violent shaking of the head, has become almost commonplace in sports.
Recently there has been increased awareness directed towards Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease commonly found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma.
CTE has devastating effects on an individual’s personality and ability to function. Early symptoms of CTE usually appear in a patient’s late 20’s or 30’s.
Former National Football League (NFL) linebacker Junior Seau was found to have CTE after his suicide in 2012. Countless other former football players have been found to have had CTE after their deaths. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 110 out of 111 deceased former NFL players were found to have CTE.
However, CTE is not just found in football players. Former BMX biker Dave Mirra was found to have CTE after his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2016. Mirra had countless concussions throughout his life, and it was these concussions that caused his CTE.
WWE wrestler Chris Benoit is another a professional athlete who suffered from CTE. Benoit killed his wife and child before killing himself in 2007.
Benoit’s autopsy revealed that his brain resembled that of an 85 year old Alzheimer’s patient rather than the brain of a 40 year. It was also reported that at the time of his death he had an advanced form of dementia, similar to the brains of four former NFL players who had also suffered multiple concussions, sank into depression, and harmed themselves or others.
Concussions have become a major issue in our society today and there is not enough action being taken to stop them from occurring. In recent years the NFL has implemented a concussion protocol for players who are suspected of having suffered a concussion during a game. However, there have been instances where the protocol is not taken seriously or is bypassed altogether.
For instance, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was sent off the field by referees to be evaluated for a concussion during a game. He went into the medical tent for mere seconds before running back onto the field. In total, he missed one play.
There is a misunderstanding in sports concerning injuries like concussions where the symptoms are internal rather than external, thus deeming them as not being as serious.
Ultimately, concussions are a major issue in our sports and need to be taken very seriously. We need to take players’ health seriously, and reforms towards concussions are a major way for us to do that.