October 08, 2013
With the NHL and NFL seasons in full swing, concussions are a hot topic. Blows to the head can have serious short- and long-term consequences, so why do athletes risk brain damage by returning to play too early? And how can we keep them safer?
A little knock on the head can lead to big trouble, though the exact nature of the trouble has yet to be determined. Regardless, it’s clear that there are significant problems associated with slamming the brain into the skull.
At present, former athletes are coming clean about depression, memory loss, anxiety and a host of other cognitive impairments related to head trauma. There have been suicides, and family trauma goes unmeasured. Concussion stats are questionable due to under-reporting. Doctors and scientists try to determine how to diagnose and treat concussions before allowing a return to activity, but they can be foiled by athletes and coaches who say everything’s fine when it’s not.
The latest generation of athletes is more wary to be sure, but many regularly return to play too soon and risk long-term health issues from repeated concussions. What can parents, coaches, players and doctors do to make sport safer?