YOUNG VOICES: Concussions more than just a sports injury

2013-09-09T00:00:00Z YOUNG VOICES: Concussions more than just a sports injuryBy C.J. Skok nwitimes.com
September 09, 2013 12:00 am  • 

What do these three things have in common: boxing, nausea and contusion? Had this article no headline, this might prove to be a riddle of great merit. However, all three of these have some connection to minor traumatic brain injury, more commonly known as a concussion.

Boxing, a sport where concussions are fairly common; nausea, a common symptom of concussions; and contusion, bruising that can occur to the brain following a concussion, all have some relation to concussions.

But really, what is a concussion? In its most basic sense, a concussion is when the head is subject to blunt force from which the brain's built-in safety nets (cerebrospinal fluid, meninges) cannot protect. Simply, this results in rotational movement of the brain, disrupting neural processes.

This might also lead to structural damage which can take some time for the body to heal. While the prognosis is usually good, repeated concussions can become a problem.

Concussions have arisen as a serious issue in sports. Boxing, a sport where hits to the head can be commonly taken, was called to be banned by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Many former National Football League players are seeking court settlements after developing cognitive deficits (i.e. loss of memory) resulting from successive concussions sustained while playing.

The NFL even released a study of 2,500 former players which suggested that when three or more concussions were sustained their risk of depression was tripled. Policies regarding concussions have only recently been instituted in many sports (i.e. NFL, 2007).

Even outside of sports, however, concussions can readily occur.

I was cleaning out the refrigerator several weeks ago and, being the graceful person I am, hit the back of my head as I was pulling it out. Chances are (following medical advice) I sustained a minor concussion.

While many do associate this as a sports injury, believe me, it is something that can occur in daily life as well. All it takes is the right hit to the head.

Maybe I’m just preaching to the choir because I’m a neuroscience major, but in all seriousness, take concussions and the health of your brain seriously.

Concussions have for some reason come off as something that should be “shaken off” or neglected. To be blunt, they should not.

Whether you are considering memory problems or clinical depression, successive concussions can have severe repercussions that can permanently impact an individual’s mental health.

I do not know about you, but next time I get on the bike (or apparently when cleaning out the refrigerator) I’m wearing a helmet.

C.J. Skok, of Valparaiso, is a junior at Indiana University in Bloomington. The opinions are the writer's.

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