Guide to NFL injuries: Concussions

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Last weekend, the New York Giants’ receiver Sterling Shepard suffered a concussion against the Dallas Cowboys. He was inexplicably allowed to continue playing, going against the established concussion protocol procedures agreed upon by the NFL and NFL Players Association. Now, both groups are reviewing the incident.

Concussions have been a serious problem in the National Football League and a subject of controversy.

Condition:

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury, one that directly affects brain function. While the symptoms tend to be temporary, they are no less serious. It’s a common sports injury, particularly in football (American and International) and ice hockey.

Concussions are normally caused by a violent blow to the head and neck, although a violent body blow can also cause a concussion. It’s not so much the location of the contact as the resulting jolt to the head which causes the brain to shift back and forth in the skull and bang against the skull. The cerebrospinal fluid that normally protects the brain by cushioning it fails due to the violence of the trauma. The banged-up-brain results in the outward symptoms seen in concussions.

Because the injury involves violent trauma to the brain, there is a possibility of internal bleeding in or around the brain. This condition can be fatal. That is why players who experience concussions must be taken out immediately and monitored for hours afterward as symptoms only present themselves much later.

Symptoms:

Repeated vomiting; a loss of consciousness lasting longer than 30 seconds; a worsening headache; changes in behavior; decreased physical coordination; confusion or disorientation; slurred speech or other changes in speech; seizures; impaired vision; eye disturbances; dizziness; worsening symptoms. In serious cases involving internal bleeding, drowsiness and confusion occur.

Diagnosis:

A doctor should evaluate signs and symptoms while also reviewing medical history. Because signs and symptoms of a concussion take time to present themselves, patients should be observed for hours or even days after the trauma. Numerous tests may be done including neurological exams, cognitive tests, and imaging tests (CT, MRI, or X-rays).

Treatment:

Rest and limiting activities, particularly those that involve rapid or vigorous movements.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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