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Tackling Concussions Saves Lives

by Braden Holt

It was March 13th, 2021, and we were playing our rival high school. We were down coming out of halftime, but we had the ball and were driving down the field. On a third down play, the play was not supposed to go to my side so I was not going full speed. Our quarterback ended up taking the ball to my side, and as a result of my unreadiness, I was hit on the top of my head by another person’s head and instantly fell to the floor. I saw nothing but black space and my ears were ringing. Once I got back up on my feet, I almost fell back down due to how dizzy I was feeling. I was out of school and football for two weeks and was not even able to look at my phone. I have played football for almost my entire life. I love the sport, and I play at a collegiate level. Concussions are a serious problem that plagues every level of football. My mom was even hesitant about me playing youth football when I was younger due to how apparent the issue of brain injuries are. During my football career, I have suffered multiple concussions and they are anything but pleasant. Whenever I have gotten a concussion, I have always been to a doctor immediately. However, many people who get concussions will not report their symptoms which is very dangerous. Concussions are not an injury to try to play through, and there are many serious consequences for people who ignore their concussion symptoms.

There are about 300,000 football-related concussions per year, and 1 in every 5 people who play a contact sport will suffer a concussion in any given year. About 5 out of 10 concussions go unreported, which means that 150,000 concussions per year go unreported: absolutely insane (2). A long-term consequence of concussions is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, otherwise known as CTE. CTE occurs as a result of concussions and is permanent irreversible brain damage (2). The scariest thing about CTE is the fact that there is no way to diagnose it while a person is living, and there is no treatment for it. In order to prevent further brain damage, it is important to take the proper steps so that the brain is not re-injured.
After my concussion, I was immediately given a baseline test. A concussion baseline test is performed to test the severity of a concussion and in my case, it gave the trainers insight into my recovery time. These tests are given in two parts. In order to play high football for my high school, I had to complete this baseline test before I was eligible to play. The test consists of games that test memory and reaction time. Once I was experiencing concussion symptoms, I was given the same test in order to test if my reflexes or memory has decreased as a result of the concussion. In my case, my scores were significantly lower than when I took the test for the first time, so my high school’s trainer would not let me participate in any physical activity for close to two weeks. I had to take the same baseline test in order to play football at Shenandoah. These tests have helped me as well as many of my teammates return to football safely. Personally speaking, I felt much safer knowing that there was a test specifically made for assessing if I get a brain injury.

ImPACT Applications is the organization that creates these concussion tests. They also offer concussion education and concussion care for both children and adults(1). ImPACT Application’s mission is to provide concussion care, tools, and training to people of all ages (1). ImPACT Applications has administered over 20,000,000 baseline and post-concussion tests and has over 17,000 providers trained in concussion care to accurately assess and manage concussions (1). For more information, please visit impactconcussion.com (1).

No matter what sport you play, I strongly encourage you to take a concussion baseline test. That way if you ever get a concussion, you can easily take a post-concussion test to assess your concussion. Furthermore, I recommend sports teams adopt concussion baseline tests as part of their normal protocols because it is crucial for the safety of athletes. Lastly, if you are experiencing concussion symptoms, I strongly encourage you to see a doctor as soon as possible. While concussion tests are a great way to assess concussions, doctors can help manage concussions and minimize the pain and symptoms that come with brain injuries.

Resources:

  1. ImPACT Applications https://impactconcussion.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=paid_search&utm_campaign=ia_products&ads_cmpid=11017518936&ads_adid=108503016152&ads_matchtype=b&ads_network=g&ads_creative=461172087315&utm_term=%2Bimpact&ads_targetid=kwd-18897238340&utm_campaign=&utm_source=adwords&utm_medium=ppc&ttv=2&gclid=Cj0KCQiAsqOMBhDFARIsAFBTN3d_Sg15V0LCzmrRkaAxdLm1nyRWpfnb4rz-694GUg_nAkRvXidipFcaAnpfEALw_wcB

2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke https://www.ninds.nih.gov

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