I recently came across a Sports Illustrated article examining violence in the National Hockey League and the resulting injuries, specifically concussions.
Concussions are certainly one of the hot topics in the sporting world today, affecting all ages and playing levels from youth to professional. Both professional football and professional hockey have undergone rule changes and have had star athletes suffer from concussions. Athletes such as Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburg Penguins both missed out on playing time last year due to concussion symptoms.
This increased attention to concussions has caused a trickle-down effect into intercollegiate, interscholastic and recreational sporting leagues. As explained in this video segment, the NFL has even changed some of its rules to keep the game exciting — but safe. This demand for safety has encouraged instructors and coaches to focus on hitting fundamentals and league officials to employ athletic trainers, sports physicians and paramedics to attend sporting events where concussions and other head and neck injuries may occur.
The importance of allowing an athlete, whether at the youth or professional level, to recover fully from a possible concussion cannot be stressed enough.
Concussion symptoms have been shown to become exponentially more severe when the brain is not allowed to fully recover between the first and second concussive blow. Second Impact Syndrome occurs when an athlete receives multiple concussive blows without allowing the brain time to fully heal in between concussions, and often results in death or permanent disability.
There will be more to come on concussions, and the tools athletic trainers and physicians use to deal with concussions, in my next blog entry.