Professor Shawn Jasinski
Writing and Critical Inquiry
November 4, 2014
Managing the Risk of Concussions Imagine that one day you woke up and could no longer do the simple things you enjoy in life. What if you couldn’t even read the paper, or watch a movie with a loved one? Many current and former athletes are suffering through this every day, and the reason for this is long-term brain damage, which is a direct result of concussions. Unfortunately concussions have been rising at an alarming rate. This trend has not only been occurring in big money professional sports, but also in amateur sports like youth soccer. Concussions are quickly becoming an epidemic across the entire sporting world. Each year about 300 000 amateur and professional athletes suffer head injuries (Mcphee 1). Athletics must make some significant changes to deal with this ongoing crisis. First of all, more research must be done on concussions and athletes must be more informed about the risks they are taking. Secondly, the athletic community must look at the role of technology in sports and decide how it should be applied to help improve this situation. Finally, the governing bodies of sport must implement rule changes to protect athletes from unnecessary risks during competition. Until these issues are addressed, this alarming trend of long-term brain injury will continue throughout the sporting world.
A concussion is most often defined as a trauma induced alteration in mental status that may or may not involve loss of consciousness (Leclerc 2). Concussions can be sorted into three grades. The least serious is a grade one or mild concussion; this type of concussion occurs when there is no loss of consciousness and the posttraumatic amnesia is less than thirty minutes. The second grade of concussion is a grade two or moderate concussion. An athlete who suffers a grade two concussion either lost consciousness for less than 5 minutes or displays posttraumatic amnesia for more than thirty minutes. The most serious type of concussion is a grade three or severe concussion. A grade three concussion involves either the loss of consciousness for more than five minutes or posttraumatic amnesia lasting more than twenty-four hours (Roos 2). One of the most concerning elements of head injuries is how very little we know; more studies must be done and the athletes and coaches must become more educated about this issue. The embarrassing reality in today’s sporting world is that we know very little about the causes and effects of head injuries. Granted we have made leaps and bounds over the past decade or so, we are still just scratching the surface when it comes to understanding concussions. One of the biggest challenges facing the study of concussions is finding a standardized way of evaluating them. During my research I was astonished to learn how many different ways concussions are interpreted. The biggest problem when evaluating concussions is the inconsistencies of the injury. In some cases one single concussion can be life threatening while in other cases athletes can suffer several serious concussions and suffer only minimal effects. Figuring out why concussions differ so much will be one of the keys to understanding concussions.
One of the largest obstacles hampering research is funding. There is obviously a massive amount of research that must be conducted; the question is who should pay for it? Studies on head injuries can range anywhere from $30 000 to over $160 000 (Potter 2 & 3). Contrary to what many people believe I do not think that the government should supply the capital that is needed for research. My opinion is that the sports world should collectively fund the massive amount of research that must be undertaken. The professional sporting leagues around the world must lead the other sporting organizations in contributing financially to understanding concussions. This is only logical since professional sports have the most