September 2015 Newsletter
While football has quickly become the most popular sport to watch in America, many parents are having second thoughts about letting their children play the sport. Why you might ask? It’s because more and more people are beginning to fear concussions and the impact they have on a person’s health and life.
Concussions occur when the head suffers a serious blow and causes the brain to bounce around and twist within the skull. This leads to stretching, cell damage, and chemical changes in the brain. Repeated occurrences of concussions can actually cause long-term brain damage and disabilities. Because of the hard-hitting nature of football, concussions are very common and while players have gotten bigger, faster, and stronger, the hits have gotten even harder. In a study done by the Centers for Disease Control, researchers found that football had the highest proportion of concussions in high school athletes at 47% and at least one player sustains a mild concussion per game. Despite the safety measures and rule changes designed to reduce the risk of concussions, it is still hard to find a way to prevent them in such a fast-paced and violent sport.
As more researchers have studied the effects of concussions, people have become more aware of the impact that concussions can have on a person’s long-term health and well-being. The prevalence of concussions has discouraged many parents and their kids from playing the sport. In a report by ESPN, participation in high school football has dropped by 2% since 2008 and the number of Pop Warner players fell by 10% between 2010 and 2012. There are also numerous studies that have shown the long-term effects of concussions from football. One study done by the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes at North Carolina University showed that 60% of professional football players had experienced at least one concussion in their career. The same study also showed that players who had a concussion suffered from memory, concussion, and neurological issues more frequently than those who had not. There is also growing evidence that repetitive head trauma and concussions from football can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a progressive degenerative brain disease that leads to memory loss, depression, impaired judgment, and dementia. Many retired players who have CTE struggle mightily with their deteriorating health and several former NFL players who suffered from depression and committed suicide were found to have CTE in their brains. In the past summer alone, four professional football players under the age of 30 retired and cited concerns about head trauma and their long-term health, emphasizing the impact of concussions in football.
Although football remains a popular sport in America, people are becoming more and more conscious of the dangers of the sport. As we learn more about concussions, the more we know about the effects it can have on a person’s long term health and well-being. Even with the numerous safety measures that have been implemented in the sport, concussions are still difficult to avoid. Hopefully, with further advances in technology and more knowledge about concussions, we can make football a safer sport to play.