The NFL: Concussions and CTE

08 Feb

The hottest off the field topic in the NFL right now is arguably traumatic brain injury. From nonstop coverage on sports networks to box-office films such as “Concussion”, traumatic brain injuries are being brought to the attention of the public.

Concussions are caused by a strong collision between the brain and skull. Strong accelerational forces upon the head and neck cause the brain to slam against the inner surface of the skull.

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This impact causes several chemicals to be released into the brain. This chemical imbalance can cause reduced blood flow, unconsciousness, and cell death. In order for the brain to recover, chemical balance in the brain must be restored. Most concessions heal within 7-10 days. 

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressively degenerative disease that takes several years to appear. It is caused by multiple sub-concussive blows to the head and can only be diagnosed posthumously. Symptoms include depression, increased aggression, memory loss, and impaired judgement. These behaviors may also be playing a large role in the NFL’s other major off the issue- domestic violence.

Contrary to public perception, the league is putting forward a respectable effort into reducing rates of brain injuries. An independent neurologist is in the booth of every NFL game. In addition, sideline physicians have the ability to prevent a player from returning to the field, no matter how much the player protests otherwise. Furthermore, the NFL has given the National Institute of Health over $30 million for research on CTE and ways to make the sport safer for people of all ages.