Concussions have created controversy worldwide as a serious issue over the last couple decades. Some people have a deep understand of what it means to be concussed and others have no idea. A concussion, according to the MayoClinic is defined as “A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. Effects are usually temporary, but can include problems with headache, concentration, memory, judgment, balance and coordination.” Now, you tell me, do you think that a concussions is something to be ignored and overlooked like most athletes do?
Athletes commonly endure concussions but keep it a secret so they are able to keep playing. Each athlete has their own reason for overlooking a concussion; however, there are two main reason in particular that professional athletes ignore signs of serious brain trauma. The two main reasons include, influences from peers and coaches as well as lack of knowledge about returning to sport after a concussion.
Professional athletes have a stereotype that includes them being strong and tough. Many athletes are fearful that if they report their concussion, their reputation will be altered. Some athletes, including Jason Short of the Philadelphia Eagles, have stepped forward in saying that they failed to report their concussion only because they did not want to be looked at as “soft,” to the rest of their teammates and fans. Short told reporter, Josiah Schlatter, that he and another team members thought that if they “reported every ding and every concussion, you were soft”(Schiatter, Bettis 2011). Short also stated that once he became more educated about concussions, he realized that the outcome of hiding a concussion was no where near worth the long-term effects and alterations to the brain that concussions cause (Schiatter, Bettis 2011).
Being a professional athlete means living and breathing your sport. Coaches pick each player to be on their team because of the consistent effort and skill that they put into the game. The team as a whole is dependent on each player which is why athletes are fearful that if they cannot preform to their best ability then they may get cut from the team. Coaches themselves try to overlook when their athlete has a concussion, because they need each player to be present, this why where the idea that players come up with about being cut originates from. If a coach wants the athlete to overlook a concussion then that is what they must do. Athletes are scared to go against their coaches wishes because in turn that might mean getting cut from the team and sport they love most.
A recent study stated “only 17% of colligate athletes reported having concussions; however, 48% reported sustaining a head injury that was followed by the key symptoms of concussions, which include, headache, dizziness, loss of balance, and blurred vision,” (Meehan, Mannix, O’Brien, & Collins 2013). The evidence supports that athletes are ignoring their concussions by continuing to play even when they are experiencing symptoms. Most of the time, a player would stop playing and let their head heal, especially if their coach encouraged them. Evidence would suggest that many coaches are not encouraging healing time for the brain.
Athletes are known for returning to a sport quickly after receiving a concussion, and not taking the necessary precautions that are important when overcoming a concussion. Recovering from a concussion is different for everyone, as Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, MD, Director of Michigan NeuroSport stated; “each athlete may experience his/her concussion differently. Because concussions may affect each athlete differently, sports medicine professionals need to treat each athlete uniquely and not automatically follow a set protocol” (Carter 2013). Even though there is no set procedure for treating a concussion, most of the helpful ways and precautions that must be taken to start feeling better are the same. The most important step in recovering is to give your brain a break. The brain needs rest in order to heal; this means that all physical activity has to be cut out.
It is also important to see a doctor about discussing the symptoms that one is experiencing and to track recovery progress. Once the patient has stopped experiencing all symptoms they should follow a five-step protocol before returning to their normal sport. The five steps include; light aerobic exercise, sport specific exercise, non-contact training drills, full-contact practice, and then finally they can return to competition (Carter 2013). These steps are crucial to follow when recovering because there is a huge shift in the brain when going from no physical activity to all of a sudden lots. If any symptoms resurface while completing these steps, the previous stepped should be completed again after at least 24 hours. It is crucial for athletes to follow these steps before returning to their sport because they need to make sure that they are fully healed.
It is common that athletes get concussions from contact sports and continue to play because they do not understand the seriousness. Players are influenced by their coaches and teammates. Coaches overlook concussions because they expect each player to preform at their best at all times, even when they are feeling under the weather. Athletes go along with coaches because they are afraid that they will be cut from the team. They are influenced by their teammates because they fear to be looked down upon. Recovering from a concussion takes time, which is something that people ignore; athletes go back to sports quickly without taking the necessary actions towards recovering fully. Efforts need to be increased to ensure that athletes are aware of the seriousness of concussions. Athletes need to take responsibility for their health, and garner a greater understanding of how to handle a concussion.
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