Concussion injuries and football

Over the past few years, more information has come about over concussions. Specifically, a lot of studies have been done on the repetitive hits of professional football player’s heads. Today, a new analysis confirms that concussions are showing up at higher rates of teenagers who are playing sports where there is helmet to helmet contact.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, a letter published on Tuesday noted that 20% of teens stated they have been diagnosed with a concussion and nearly 6 percent have been diagnosed more than once.

The study by Veliz et. al includes data from 2016 where a compilation of in-school US students in grades 8,10, and 12 were surveyed. In the survey, the students (with parental consent) were asked questions such as “Have you ever had a head injury that was diagnosed as a concussion” and response possibilities included: yes, once; yes, more than once; or, no. The survey collected results from a total of 13,088 adolescent participants. Of those 13,088, 50.2 percent were female and 46.8 percent male. An estimated 19.5 percent reported at least 1 diagnosed concussion in their lifetime; 5.5 percent reported being diagnosed multiple times with a concussion.

The Mayo Clinic explains that the cause of a concussion comes from “a violent blow to your head and neck or upper body [that] can cause your brain to slide back and forth forcefully against the inner walls of your skull.” This movement against the skull causes inflammation of the brain.

Some of the symptoms that are associated with a concussion include headaches, nausea and dizziness as told by the Center for Disease Control. While some may be displayed rapidly after the injury occurs, symptoms such as concentration and memory issues, irritability and changes in mood, and sensitivity to senses such as light and noise.

In studies done on the brains of professional football players who have experienced a concussion, there are often signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). In a study on NFL players’ brains, 110 out of the 111 deceased former football players displayed CTE.

Deceased NFL star, convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez suffered from severe CTE

This research comes to light after the 2015 expose Concussion, explains the story of forensic-pathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu, as he “uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.”

Research has found that since the year 2002, the number of concussions has nearly doubled to around 3,800,000 reported annually. One-third of all concussions occur during practice, not during game-time. Additionally, 47 percent of all reported sports concussions occur during high school football.

In a previous study done in 2007, the Journal of Athletic Training reported an estimated 300,000 sport-related traumatic brain injuries, predominantly concussions, occur each year in the United States. The study included 100 United States high schools as well as 180 colleges. From the data collected from the High School Reporting Information Online (RIO) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System, it was found that concussions are the highest reported injury among both college and high school athletes. Concussions represent 8.9 percent of all high school injuries and 5.8 percent of all collegiate athletic injuries.

As for now, Philip Veliz, an author for the Journal of American Medical Association and assistant research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women & Gender, explains there is still more research to be done with adolescents and concussions, but having the information known so far will help to track progress in the future.

Featured image via Dreamstime/Ronald Carlson