Ain’t That a Kick in the Head: Effects of Concussions on Brain Activity

A concussion is a minor traumatic brain injury that occurs when one’s head hits an object or a moving object strikes the head. This results in a decrease in brain function in addition to headaches for a temporary period of time. Recently, theories have come to rise that believe concussions are possibly the cause for some cases of depression, memory loss, and aggression.  Many of these cases appear with professional athletes in sports such as football, boxing, and ice hockey, which would likely be due to the generally violent nature of the sports where head trauma is anything but a rarity. More and more research has been performed to aid in finding out how dangerous consequences of concussion are on a longer time scale. If minor head trauma is found to cause serious neurological damage, there are surely ways to prevent it.

The New York Times released an article about one former professional football player who believes the numerous blows to his head were the cause of his dementia and memory loss. As one of the most influential and greatest fighters in the sport of boxing, Muhammad Ali also is also believed to have developed Parkinson’s disease due to the amount of head trauma he received on a daily basis according to an article published in The Guardian. These two figures are only a small sample of the sheer number of cases that link head trauma as the cause of various neurological diseases. There have been thousands of reports that athletes are suffering from different neurological problems accredited to the number of violent hits and lack of protection in each of their sports.

In 2008, The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) began researching the effects of head trauma on the brain of professional athletes, while collaborating with the National Football League (NFL). From the data collected by a large amount of donors, it seems that the CSTE can safely conclude that repeated head trauma does have a long term effect on neurological activity. Athletes from different high contact sports show many of the same symptoms of brain deterioration according to the research. In support of what the research has suggested, about 80 former and current NFL players have filed lawsuits against the NFL aiming to hold it responsible for the care of the damaged players.

Concussions, nowadays, are beginning to be taken more seriously than ever before now that this light has been shed on the after-effects. Preventative steps have begun to be created in order to lessen the number of head trauma incidents around the professional sports world. The NFL, NCAA, and NHL have all been developing safer helmets for their players, while also being more stringent on rules and regulations in each sport when it comes to contact. Of course, the only guaranteed prevention is if the players stopped playing their respective sports altogether, but that is not likely to occur. For now, there is only hope that safer equipment will continue to be created to aid in keeping neurological deterioration away from athletes’ futures.

-Bryan Doyle

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Posted on February 16, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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