Football is a very popular team sport, and it’s often characterized by roaring stadiums. But a very important factor that somewhat falls on the darker side is the brain injuries that football players have to face. Football as a game indeed offers a lot of athletic prowess, but the consequences of football brain injury are far-reaching. So, if you are interested in knowing more about these injuries and the impact they leave, read on.
Types of Brain Injuries in Football
Now, let’s take a look at the different types of brain injury from football that a player can encounter.
- Concussions: When the brain hits the inside of the skull due to a collision, that’s when a concussion happens. These are some of the most recognized injuries that occur during the game of football, and it is also one of the most concerning. The severity of the concussion also depends on the intensity of the impact. The greater the force at which the ball hits the head, the more severe will be the concussion. Common symptoms after a concussion include memory issues, disorientation, fogginess, headaches, and even loss of consciousness in some cases. According to the reports by the CDC, if a person suffers from more than one concussion, it can also lead to other problems like aggression, anxiety, depression, and personality changes and increases the risk of brain disorders like CTE, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
- Intracranial Hematomas: Before we explain what this means, you need to understand the meaning of the term ‘intracranial.’ It means inside your cranium or skull. On the other hand, a ‘hematoma’ is when blood accumulates abnormally outside the blood vessel walls. So, what is an intracranial hematoma? It is when there is an abnormal build-up of blood between the skull and the brain. This results in excess pressure on the brain, and if intervention is not made, it can be fatal. These hematomas occur after a head injury.
- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE: This is a degenerative brain condition that occurs as a result of repeated head injuries. Over time, the changes that happen to the brain can worsen. There are reports of former athletes who had faced CTE have committed murder or even suicide. This is because CTE leads to emotional and cognitive problems in the patient.
- Cerebral Contusions: A ‘contusion’ is a bruise, and when that bruise occurs on the cerebrum, it’s termed a cerebral contusion. We all have faced bruises in our lives on arms or other body parts, but when that bruise occurs on a sensitive and complex organ like the brain, it’s a cause for concern. It can lead to seizures, uncontrollable movements, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and even nausea. This is also a very common type of football brain damage seen in players.
Impact of Brain Injuries
Football player brain injury is one such topic that has significant causes of concern and yet goes unspoken of. It’s high time we raise awareness about it especially because of the impact it has on the lives of these players, which are sometimes even irreversible.
- Short-Term Effects: There are some immediate effects that you will be able to see right after a football brain injury. These include disorientation, blurry vision, nausea, and difficulty in concentration. All of these, in some way or the other, will affect the player’s playing capability. There have been cases where the player was temporarily or even permanently asked to take a break from playing so that they can get sufficient time to recover from their injuries.
- Long-Term Effects: The long-term effects of brain damage from football have become a significant topic of discussion among experts owing to the destructive nature of these effects that ruin a person’s quality of life. For example, players with CTE have experienced havoc in their lives in their post-retirement stage. If the brain damage progresses, the players also experience complete loss of memory, mood swings, depression, and other personality disorders, all of which affect their way of life.
What Can You Do?
To prevent concussions and other brain damage in footballers, they have been advised to use several protective gear, for example, mouthguards and helmets. But are these protective gear sufficient to protect the players against CTE or concussions?
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, these gears alone are not enough. They can indeed stand against skull fractures, but when it comes to concussions, they are not as reliable.
According to studies, wearing football helmets can reduce the risk of encountering brain trauma in football by 20%, and that’s not much at all. Similarly, if the player wears a concussion prevention headband, it will reduce the risk to a certain extent, but not enough to be considered a full-proof mechanism against concussions. It’s safe to say that research conducted in this field to find effective safety equipment for football players has been largely inconclusive.
Thus, as of now, awareness and proper education is the best way to prevent football injury and brain damage. Some essential tips to keep in mind are:
- Irrespective of whether you are simply practicing or playing on the final day of the game, never skip the safety equipment. Wear it at all times.
- There might be uneven spots on the playing field. Examine them beforehand.
- While you are training, make sure you perform some neck-strengthening exercises.
- When on the field, don’t engage in any aggressive playing style, and never encourage such practices.
- Pad the side posts for impact.
- Make sure you use proper techniques in the game.
- Before the season begins, all participants should undergo a physical examination. With concussions being traumatic brain injuries football organizers should be more careful about player’s history. It should be investigated whether the players had faced any neck or head injuries before in their career.
- During every game, a physician should be present on the spot. If it’s not possible to make this happen, then emergency measures should be devised so that in case a person experiences such an injury, every staff member knows what to do.
- In football traumatic brain injury can leave lifelong consequences, as we have already discussed in this blog. Hence, it’s imperative that the coaches teach the athletes proper blocking and tackling skills so that they know how to keep their heads out of the way when the football is coming.
- Using heads as battering rams should be highly discouraged by coaches.
- If a player has started showing signs of brain injury football organizers should ensure that the player gets immediate medical attention.
Continued research is being done in this field to explore the brain-related injuries that can happen in the game of football and the consequences they leave. Retired football players often give their firsthand experiences of such head trauma, which is then utilized in ongoing research to ensure maximum safety can be ensured for the players and proper safety equipment can be devised. Contact us today!