Headache is the most common symptom of concussion. Brain Injury Awareness Month is coming in March, an effort to increase awareness of brain injuries and their significance. The Brain Injury Association of America recently updated their definition of traumatic brain injury: TBI is defined as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force. Even seemingly mild jolts to the brain can actually cause a concussion. Ever get that feeling of being dazed? That’s a concussion, too. Headaches can occur immediately at the time of impact or in the ensuing days afterwards, and can be brief, or can result in prolonged and chronic problems.
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The NFL’s New Rules
It was a notable weekend where numerous severe neurological injuries were incurred during football games. Representatives from the NFL have stated that there will be new penalties enforced for devastating and illegal hits, to help protect players from concussion and other injuries.
Protecting athletes from concussion is a good thing. The most important issue here in my mind, is the NFL making a statement and setting a standard for younger players and their leagues. When the NFL comes out with a strong statement like this, people listen. How this will affect the game and the way players play is entirely another thing, and not something that I can truly comment on.
Concussion is under recognized, and under reported, and can have devastating neurological consequences, including even death. Of course, most concussions are mild, and people recover from them. It is more likely, though, that permanent brain damage will result if a first concussion is not fully healed before a second concussion happens. You must allow the brain to heal FULLY before engaging in risky activity. You should see a doctor to help determine when that healing is complete.
There is also an increased risk of sustaining permanent brain damage after recurrent concussions, and the more concussions you have, the more you’re likely to get.
Knowledge and awareness helps to guide us through making important decisions. The decision on whether to play should only be made with full awareness of the potential risks. But in the end, it is the choice of the individual and/or parent, so providing the appropriate information on which to base decisions is an important step.