When thinking about playing a sport, especially a contact sport, the topic of concussions almost always comes up.
The long term effects of a concussion and common occurrences of them in football has brought controversy into the NFL as they try to adjust their rules to protect their players. Similar to the NFL, JSGFFL has very strict rules against contact, especially contact to the head.
According to Sports Concussion Institute, a concussion is caused by a direct blow to the head or a blow on the body that causes “neurological impairments”. The brain floats in the skull in cerebral spinal fluid and when the head takes a major impact, the brain hits the skull. When this actions occurs, a concussion has occurred.
Symptoms of a concussion according to The Mayo Clinic include a headache or pressure in the head, loss of consciousness, confusion, amnesia, ringing in the ears, nausea/vomiting, slurred speech, and fatigue. Sometimes, these symptoms appear right after the blow or they may not be present until hours or days after the incident.
After a blow to the head, it is very important for athletes to not return to the activity while their symptoms are present. If a concussion is expected, they should immediately be medically evaluated.
The Mayo Clinic says the best way to recover your brain from a concussion is physical and mental rest since any physical activity or things that require mental concentration may worsen symptoms.
It is very important to heal properly because not only can practicing while still concussed worsen symptoms, but so can getting another concussion which can become fatal. According to Jay Cardiello, concussions can impact you in the long run if you have continuous injury. The effects include changes in thinking, sensations, communicating and emotion. These changes may not appear at first, but 10-20% of patients develop chronic problems such as depression, anxiety, headaches, balance, attention and concentration. MRIs even show brain shrinkage in concussion patients in the front and back sections of the brain. In one football season, a professional player receives an estimated 900-1500 blows to the head which increases the risk for concussive brain damage. Professional football players also have a higher risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and clinical depression after receiving multiple concussions from blows to the head.
When playing a sport, injuries are one of the risks taken when you step onto the field or court. The best way to avoid concussions are to most importantly play by the rules. It is against JSGFFL rules to tackle someone since it is flag football. Trying to take someone out by aiming for their head will result in automatic suspension from the league. Another important way to avoid head injury to practice good sportsmanship so that a player doesn’t find it necessary to try to injure somebody’s head. Practicing proper technique and scanning the field for holes or uneven spots where a player could fall is key as well to making sure a player doesn’t unintentionally injure themselves.
Don’t forget to always visit a medical professional if you believe you or a teammate has a concussion.