Although it’s unavoidable to become injured while playing sports, it is important to be aware of the risks of which injuries are the most common and can have the most severe outcomes. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, about 21 percent of sports and recreational activities contribute to traumatic brain injuries among children and adolescents in America.
While sports injuries rarely lead to fatalities, the leading cause of death among athletes is injuries to the head, according to the AANS. A brain injury consists of a blow or penetrating jolt to the head that may disrupt the normal functions of the brain.
Injuries on this spectrum can range from mild to severe depending on the extent of the damage. A concussion is a subset of brain injuries and is the most common symptom or indicator of a brain injury.
Awareness of these types of injuries can help install preventative measures in athletes and educate the severity of a possible long-term impact.
Although some brain injuries are not always visible and may seem relatively minor, according to headinjury.com, these types of injuries are really complex. They can have physical, cognitive, and social effects on an injured athlete.
The most common symptoms of a brain injury are impairment of memory and concentration and changes in mood. Traumatic brain injury is the result of damaged brain tissue from an external force.
Concussion, or a mild TBI, is the most common type of injury, according to spinalcord.com. Concussions used to be considered something of an inconvenience, especially in the NFL. Now, it is widely known that a concussion can cause lifelong damage. A condition common among professional football players is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is frequent concussions to one individual.
A brain contusion is similar to a concussion, according to spinalcord.com, but is classified as a mild form of bleeding under the skin. These can resolve on their own, but if the bleeding does not cease then surgery will be required to remove the bleed.
The brain makes up the major connections throughout our body that keep us functioning and healthy. Thinking about the importance of keeping your head protected, especially during sports, can prevent a head injury that could impact the rest of your life.
It is also important to go to the doctor immediately after a head injury has occurred. Some injuries are subtle and can easily be written off as a bump on the head. However, some conditions, like a brain bleed, may not resolve on their own and can be fatal.
Brain injury awareness can help instill preventative and cautionary measures to certain aspects of sports. Today, even a small head collision with helmets is taken seriously until it is proven that the athletes did not sustain a brain injury. Keeping in mind this awareness can diminish the likelihood of a fatal accident.
Written by: Alex Dunn