There are many types of sports injuries that athletes sustain each year. One of the most dangerous and sometimes overlooked injuries is a concussion. Concussions can cause a ripple effect and seriously damage the body if not treated properly.
Many athletes have suffered concussions. At the time it might not have seemed like a big deal but in some cases has led to devastating consequences.
I lost my softball career due to a concussion. It was the first district softball game of my high school freshman season. The details are a little fuzzy but it was at the beginning of the game and I somehow got on first base. I looked at my coach who gave me the signal to steal second base. On the pitch, I took off full speed. The catcher threw the ball way in front of the base. The shortstop wasn’t paying attention to me and wound up in the base path. As soon as I started to slide, we collided. This was before there were helmet requirements about face masks and chin straps. I hit my head on the ground and bounced up a little bit. The helmet flew off. I hit my head on the ground again before the shortstop fell on top of my head. I was knocked out for a few minutes.
I came to and it didn’t really seem to affect me that much other than a bad headache. I got up and finished playing the rest of the game but I couldn’t tell you any details. I don’t remember much about the game after the collision. However, I do remember piling into the back of my mom’s suburban and heading to the emergency room after the game. The ER doctor had me undergo an MRI which turned out to be normal. His prognosis was a concussion and I couldn’t play for two weeks. Eventually the headache went away and the season progressed. That summer, I played in a national tournament with my tournament team out of Bullard and was recruited to play softball for a Division I college with a full scholarship. Things were looking up and six months passed. In September, the headache came back and it was worse than before. I went to a neurologist and had another MRI as well as a CAT scan. Apparently, that seemingly innocent concussion from six months earlier had caused brain damage and took part of my memory with it. Needless to say, as soon as the college heard about my injury, the scholarship and spot on the team evaporated into thin air. Other schools didn’t want to risk having an “injured” player so my promising softball career ended after my senior year of high school.
Let me tell you that nothing is more embarrassing than recognizing someone and knowing that you know them but not being able to come up with a name. I went to the mall with my mom and one of my friends came up to say hi and I couldn’t think of her name. It was so frustrating because I know that I knew her. I had to relearn several names and faces. To this day there are times when the memory lapses and I’ve had to learn to cope with the damage.
Natasha Richardson is an example of the deadly consequences that concussions can have. During a skiing lesson, Richardson fell and hit her head. She said she felt fine and didn’t need medical attention. Three hours later, she was suffering from a headache and was taken to the hospital. By the end of the next day, she was dead. On her autopsy, it was ruled that she died from an epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head. Since her death, many groups have started enforcing rules requiring skiers to wear helmets.
The National Football League is beginning to recognize the seriousness of concussions by instituting more penalties when there is helmet to helmet contact. Many manufacturers are also starting to address this topic by issuing newer helmets that are more padded and stabilize the head to reduce the risk of concussions.
One athlete who began using one of these newer concussion reducing helmets was DeSean Jackson. He used this helmet during the 2010 football season after suffering a concussion due to a hit by Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson that sidelined Jackson for almost a month.
Some may say that this might cause players to not be as tough but when it comes to the brain, which is one of the most important organs in the body, it’s best not to take any chances. By addressing this topic and by providing ways to prevent it, athletes in the future will have healthier, safer and longer careers.