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Concussions in Nfl

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Concussions in NFL athletes
Daniel Cetnarowski
DeVry University

Concussions in NFL athletes.
Football, a sport of hard hits and exciting plays. Every year you see something in football which is amazing. A player breaks a record or catches a ridiculous pass for a touchdown. Your favorite team goes to the super bowl and wins. Your favorite player has a career season and breaks NFL records. These are the reasons why I love the game of football. But with the good, must come the bad. Players receiving injuries while playing. Minor injuries to major injuries, sooner or later every player in the NFL will experience an injury. The sad thing is, there is one injury that has an everlasting effect. Concussions. Once thought to be no big deal, concussions are now at the center of a huge lawsuit against the NFL and forcing retired players to change how they live. So, are concussions changing the lives of NFL players or is there something else happening to the players that are causing these brain disorders? My vote is the concussions are causing these players lives to change forever.
The purpose of this proposal is to show that if something is not done to limit concussions the sport may change the way we know it and love it. I would not want to watch football if the NFL went to flag football and not full tackle. The players would not want that either. If that happens the players’ salaries will get decreased. It will be a trickle down affect. The NFL will lose viewers, sponsors will give less money for endorsements, teams will pay their players less because of the decreased endorsements, and the game as we know it will change forever.
What exactly is a concussion? A concussion is a blunt force trauma to the head which makes the brain rattle around inside. When the brain moves around inside, it hits against the skull which causes the concussion. “By definition, a concussion is not a life-threatening injury, but it can cause both short-term and long-term problems (Cunha).” Symptoms of concussions are short term memory loss, confusion, blurred vision, and nausea or vomiting (Cunha).
Figure 1.

As seen in figure 1, the initial impact causes the brain to move and strike the inner part of the skull. After striking the skull, the brain moves forward from the impact and strikes the front of the skull. If the impact is much more severe, the brain will twist after the initial impact on the back of the skull. This causes much more serious concussions which can cause longer memory loss and even stop basic life functions such as breathing. (Bdguiry, 2012),
Now that we know what a concussion is, why in the blue sky would we ever want to put ourselves through something like that? For football players the answer is simple, money. NFL players are paid very well. They should be paid very well. They put their bodies on the line every weekend for our enjoyment. Some people would have you believe that the players do not know the risks of playing football. I disagree. The players know exactly what the risks are and accept them. For a football player to say he does not know the risks of the game, is absurd. The retired football players I will be talking about had very lucrative careers in the NFL. These players are undoubtedly the best to have ever played the game. I will show that these players are not the same person mentally and physically due to the severe injuries they sustained on the field. Furthermore, I will discuss the complete lack of disregard on the NFLs part to combat this issue. First retired NFL player on my list is, Sean Morey. Sean played for 10 years in the NFL and is undoubtedly one of the best special team’s players to have ever played the game of football. Sean would run down the field on kickoffs and punts, just hoping to land a big hit on someone. He landed hundreds of big hits on his opponents over his 10 year career. Sean received a super bowl ring when he was with the Pittsburg Steelers in 2006. Sean had a very good career in the NFL. Sean also received something else from all the years of hard hits. A brain injury. More specifically, post-concussion syndrome. Sean is one of thousands of players who have had concussions from playing football. The number of concussions Sean has sustained are 20 plus. Out of the 20 concussions, Sean received 4 of them in a single game. That was the last year Sean played football. Sean’s doctor forced him to retire after suffering 4 concussions in one game (Block, 2014).
Sean’s symptoms of post-concussion syndrome are not as serious as other types of brain disorders. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), is a progressive degenerative disease that has been found in 3 living retired football players. This disease has also been found in dead players after autopsies were conducted. “Researchers have discovered signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the crippling brain disease, in three NFL retirees, marking the second time on record that the degenerative neurological condition has been found in living players. (Breslow, 2013).” Tony Dorsett, Joe DeLamielleure, and Leonard Marshall have tested positive for signs of CTE following brain scans and evaluations from researchers at UCLA (Breslow, 2013)”
Another brain disorder from repeat concussions is dementia. Larry Morris played with the Chicago Bears in the 1960’s. During a championship game against the NY giants, Larry intercepted a pass and returned it 61 yards. After the interception the Bears scored and won the championship. Larry Morris was labeled the MVP of that game. The sad thing is Larry has no recollection of that game. He was diagnosed with dementia. Larry’s neuropsychiatrist has linked his dementia to his playing days in the NFL and the concussions he received. “He can't sign his name, can't complete basic hygiene tasks and sometimes struggles to dress himself. (Crossman, 2011).”
Larry is joined by thousands of retired Football players with serious brain disorders. Many of them had no idea of what a concussion was and how serious they can be. They were not educated enough to know what a concussion was. “For years, a concussion either wasn't considered an injury or was misdiagnosed. Many retired players suffering today were ignorant about concussions while they played. "We didn't know" is a common refrain in the Intercontinental. Today's players are better educated, yet many still willfully ignore the risks. In pursuit of glory, fame and fortune, they err on the side of danger. (Crossman, 2011).” NFL players want to be rich and famous. They want their names on the back of all the fans clothing. They want headlines in the papers and magazines. That’s all fine and dandy. What good is having the fame and glory if you can’t remember it? (Crossman, 2011). Studies conducted at the University of Texas has shown facts of cognitive head trauma in 30 retired NFL players. These players have had a history of multiple concussions. These 30 players were compared to 29 people who have had no history of concussions. “Twelve of the 30 players (40%) had mild to moderate symptoms of depression, compared with the national average rate of 15% in older adults.” (Stong, 2013). The major differences between the retired players and the everyday average people are as follows. Problems with concentration, retired football players 53% and average people 19%. Changes in appetite, retired players 47% and average people 13%. Loss of energy, retired players 60% and average people 29%. Changes in sleep, retired players 57% and average people 26%. Decreased interest in sex, retired players 43% and average people 16%.
The best plan to solve the problem of concussions in the NFL is for the players to have more sense of control when landing a big hit on an opponent and better helmets that can withstand more force. The players should not be allowed to take cheap shots which would cause injury to their opponent. Also, new and improved helmets would be at the top of the list for equipment to be better. Today, players are taking harder and much more violent hits to the head. If this problem is going to stop the players need to be better protected. Increased padding in the helmet can reduce the risk of a concussion and allow the players to still make those big hits and stay safe at the same time. If these two solutions are accomplished, I believe that the future of the NFL will be safe and the game will not change from what we know and love. So, in order for this problem to go away, everyone who is associated with this game needs to do their part and make sure these types of injuries do not happen. Players taking cheap shots on defenseless receivers, need to stop. NFL and team doctors also need to be more aware of signs and symptoms of concussions in players. There is no room for error when it comes to an injury of this type. Most of the times the players who get concussions never gets out of the game to be examined. The medical staff of these teams and of the NFL are trained doctors and should be able to tell when a player has a concussion. If they cannot tell who has a concussion they need to be replaced as the team doctor. Football players today are bigger, stronger, and faster. Especially defensive players like linebackers and outside tackles. These players are the ones who make the big hits. The hits are so violent that in some cases the helmet flies off of the offensive player. These types of hits are being watched by the NFL very closely and players are being penalized with fines for making these hits. New rules enforced by the NFL such as, no leading with the helmet, no helmet to helmet contact, and no hits on defenseless receivers have had a major impact on the game. Even though these rules are enforced, players are still breaking them. It seems there is a handful of players in the NFL who keep on breaking these rules. I feel these players should be banned from the NFL for life. Whether or not that happens it is yet to be determined. But, if that did happen the amount of concussions would go down. The NFL has done a good job of combating this issue with penalizing players who break these rules. According to the NFL, the new rules that were enforced has reduced the amount of concussions by13 percent from the 2012 season. In 2012 players received 261 concussions. In 2013 the players received 228 concussions. “The NFL said that the number of concussions in the league had declined 13 percent this season thanks to improved medical diagnoses, stiffer penalties for striking with a helmet and fewer practices (Belson, 2014).” 13 percent does not does not sound like a lot. Actually it is not a lot, it is only 33 concussions less. In my opinion that is not a good statistic. It only means that 33 concussions were missed or not reported. But, you cannot disagree that the steps the NFL is taking to limit concussions does not work. They are fighting an uphill battle that I feel they cannot win. More needs to be done. The following picture shows the amount of concussions each position had during the 2012 and 2013 season. The majority of the concussions are on the defensive side of the ball. So, as you can see from the picture, the cornerbacks and wide receivers had the most concussions with 49. Followed by the safety position with 39 and the tight end at 35. Running backs are next with 33 followed by linebackers with 28 concussions. 268 concussions on offense and 316 0n defense for a total of 584 concussions in the 2012 and 2013 season. (Breslow, 2014).
Equipment is another factor for player’s health and safety. New and improved helmets are slowly being used in the NFL to limit concussions. These helmets are not mandatory and are optional for the players. If a player wants to wear a new and improved helmet with more padding they can, most of them don’t. Guardian, is a new and improved helmet that is designed to limit concussions. “Lee Hanson, founder of the firm making the Guardian Cap, says his product reduces head impacts "up to 33%" in lab tests (Mihoces, 2013).” The guardian cap is designed with compartments with foam padding inside which dissipate energy better than the normal helmets that are worn by players. The guardian helmet has more padding made of rubber which also helps in the added protection of the players head. In conclusion, I feel that this problem is going to get worse before it gets better. More retired players will come forward with brain disorders from sustaining concussion in their playing careers. The NFL needs to take drastic measures in order to solve this issue. The new rules and penalties enforced is not enough. They should be leaning toward lifetime bans for those players break these rules. New and improved helmets should become mandatory. Any player who plays without one of these helmets will be fined or suspended. The players, teams and NFL all need to come together to fix this problem. It cannot be left up to just one party. All parties need to work together, or this issue will never get solved. The current players in the NFL have to come to the realization that football is not going to be around forever, at least not for them. They need to respect the seriousness of this sport and need to respect each other as professional athletes. One day they will retire and the abuse they took from playing football will catch up with them. Once that happens they will need to change their lives to cope with the disorders they sustained from football. Hopefully they were lucky and did not get a single concussion. Chances are, these players will have a tough road ahead of them after they retire. When they are struggling to write their own names or dress themselves in the morning, will they think football was worth it or will they be satisfied with how their lives turned out off the field?

References
Bdguiry. (2012, December 9). Disability Is Not a Liability. Retrieved June 24,
2014, from http://disability2012.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/one-concussion-too-many/

Belson, K. (2014, January 30). Concussions Show Decline Of 13 Percent, N.F.L. Says. The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/31/sports/football/nfl-reports-concussions-dropped- 13-percent-in-2013.html?_r=0

Block, M. (n.d.). Sidelined By Brain Injury, Ex-NFL Player Copes With 'Desperation'. NPR. Retrieved May 31, 2014, from http://www.npr.org/2014/01/31/269422083/sidelined-by-brain-injury-ex-nfl-player-copes-with-desperation

Breslow, J. (2014, February 4). What We’ve Learned From Two Years of Tracking NFL Concussions. PBS. Retrieved June 26, 2014, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/concussion-watch/what-weve-learned-from-two-years-of-tracking-nfl-concussions/

Breslow, J. M. (2013, November 7). Three Former NFL Stars Diagnosed With Telltale Signs of CTE. PBS.

Retrieved May 31, 2014, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/league-of-denial/three-former-nfl-stars-diagnosed-with-telltale-signs-of-cte/

Crossman, M. (2011, July 7). John Mackey and other retired NFL players experience living hell. Sporting News. Retrieved May 31, 2014, from http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2011-07-07/john-mackey-and-other-retired-nfl-players-experience-living-hell

Cunha, J. P., & Stoppler, M. C. (n.d.). Concussion Causes, Symptoms, Treatment - Concussion Symptoms - eMedicineHealth. eMedicineHealth. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/concussion/page3_em.htm

Mihoces, G. (2013, August 23). More padding the issue of concussions and better helmets. USA
Today. Retrieved June 15, 2014, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2013/07/30/concussions-college-football-nfl- guardian-caps/2601063/

Stong, C. (2013, June). Concussion May Lead to High Depression Rate in Retired NFL Players..
Neurology Reviews, Vol. 21 issue 6, p1-32. 2.

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...Concussions: Don’t Shake it Off A football player takes a hard blow to the head during a game. Feeling dizzy and slightly nauseous, he continues playing; not aware that he’s feeling the classic symptoms of a concussion. This is a common scenario physicians have worked to change over the last 10 to 15 years, according to Medical Group of the Carolinas Sports Medicine Institute physician, John Lucas, MD. “Ten years ago, if you took a hit to the head and you were a little bit dazed a few seconds, you may have been told to get up and shake it off,” Lucas said. “Now, we are a lot more serious of how we define and treat concussion. The medical community has really pushed to get people to understand both the immediate and potential long-term implications of head injuries.” A concussion is a type of head injury that affects the way your brain functions. Symptoms of a concussion vary but may include a headache or pressure in the head, temporary loss of consciousness, confusion, dizziness, ringing in the ears or nausea. You do not have to lose consciousness to have a concussion, which is a common misconception. “For the most part, the treatment of concussion is and has always been rest,” Lucas said. “Approximately 80 percent of concussions resolve within 7 to 10 days without any intervention. What used to be called ‘getting your bell rung’ is now defined as concussion. There are no "dings" anymore. I definitely think we have broadened what we define as......

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...All football players and their parents. Also those fans of the NFL who believe the new rules are taking away from the game. Purpose- Address the recent changes in the NFL concerning the rules against helmet to helmet collisions, and make those involved aware of the dangers of footballs most common and most dangerous injury. Matt Gfeller was the average teenager living in a small suburb town in North Carolina. He grew up loving the game of football and dreamed of the day he would start on the high school varsity team. On August 22, 2008, during the fourth quarter of his first varsity game, Matthew suffered a severe helmet to helmet collision while making a tackle at outside linebacker. This accident caused a fatal traumatic brain injury, putting Matthew into a coma. Matthew never regained consciousness and died two days later on Sunday, August 24, 2008. Tragically, events similar to this happen all too often in the fast-paced, hard hitting game of football. The National Football League has recently taken steps to keep its players safer on the field by making all helmet to helmet hits illegal. Many players and fans alike claim it is taking away from the game, but many ex-NFL players and parents of younger players such as Matthews’ would disagree. They believe that the new reals regarding helmet to helmet impacts should be enforced and helmet standards should be raised to further protect the athletes. The NFL and other leagues have become so serious about helmet to......

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