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In the Training Room: Concussions
This entry is part 2 of 14 in the series In the Training Room
- In the Training Room: Colts Kick Returner Devin Moore
- In the Training Room: Concussions
- In the Training Room: Colts Tight End Dallas Clark UPDATE
- In the Training Room: Colts Running Back Joseph Addai
- In the Training Room: Colts Safety Bob Sanders
- Health Screen: Colts Safety Chip Vaughn
- UPDATE: Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez to be Out for ‘Several Weeks’
- In the Training Room: Colts’ WR Austin Collie Suffers Another Concussion
- UPDATE In the Training Room: Jerraud Powers Injured
- In the Training Room: How Much Better Could the Colts Be… and When?
- In the Training Room: Colts LB Clint Session
- In the Training Room: How the Colts’ Injuries Compare to the Packers’
- In the Training Room: Impact of a Lockout on Rehab
- In the Training Room: Colts’ TE Dallas Clark on the Mend
Earlier this week, the league levied steep fines for several violent hits delivered by players either as helmet-to-helmet contact or hitting defenseless receivers. The primary issue is the threat of concussion, an injury to the brain that can result in the loss of memory, reduced cognitive ability, and an inability to speak normally. In severe or repeated cases, concussions can cause ongoing headaches, change one’s personality, and accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mechanically, a concussion takes place when the brain strikes the inside of the skull through some sort of traumatic force. Think of the brain as a loosely-belted passenger in a car, and recall Newton’s first and second laws of physics. If the car is driving straight ahead and crashes into a brick wall, the passenger will continue moving ahead at the previous speed until the belt or the dashboard stops him. Similarly, in a head-on helmet-to-helmet hit, the brain crashes into the front of the skull, potentially causing temporary or long-term damage. When you consider how the game is played and the sense of invincibility that players likely feel with helmets and pads, it’s a wonder that concussions aren’t suffered on every play.
The truth is that concussions are probably more prevalent in the game than we know, but they are difficult to detect because they don’t always present symptoms right away. It’s not like a player who has popped a hamstring or broken an arm and has to be helped off the field. The damage may be done, the player “shakes it off,” but over time the hits add up, resulting in a story like that of San Francisco 49er George Visger, a retired lineman who has had to scribble notes to himself since the mid-1980s to remember what he did yesterday or what he has to do today.
Although momentum has been building over the past couple of years toward focusing on the role of violent hits in football on concussions, it has finally seemed to bubble over this week with the administration of hefty fines and the threat to suspend players who deliver these hits. It’s about time.
As recently as five years ago, I don’t think anyone was talking about concussions, and I certainly don’t remember any player being held out of practice or a game due to one. And yet the evidence that players have suffered concussions in the 90-year history of the league is overwhelming. In 2007, Alan Schwarz of The New York Times wrote an exposé on the link between concussions and depression, quoting a neuropathologist’s claim that concussions likely contributed to the 2006 suicide of Philadelphia Eagles’ Andre Waters. Another neurologist evaluated New England Patriots’ Ted Johnson and linked his “depression and cognitive decline” to concussions… the worst of which was suffered during practice. A 2001 article by John Marshall of CBC Sports cited a study conducted in 1995-96 that revealed a 61% concussion rate in the NFL. The article also mentioned the role concussions played in Troy Aikman’s and Steve Young’s decisions to retire.
In the end, although it’s taken the league several years to seemingly take real notice, I suppose it’s better late than never. Unfortunately, it may already be too late for active players who suffered nasty hits just last Sunday – Todd Heap, Mohamed Massoquoi, and one of my favorites, DeSean Jackson.
Atlanta Falcons, Coltzilla, DaC, Defense, Ed Johnson, New England Patriots, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Receivers
About the author
Laura Calaway is a behavior change management consultant who has dabbled in amateur sports writing since 2009. She fell in love with the game of football as a young girl, when players like Vince Ferragamo, Eric Dickerson, and Nolan Cromwell graced her father's TV screen (Laura grew up in L.A.). She was originally a fan of the Raiders, and still has a soft spot for Howie Long and Marcus Allen. In 1991 she decided to root for a less "thuggy" team, and - not wanting to appear to be a bandwagon jumper - chose the 1-15 Colts. The fact that Sean Dawkins, one of her contemporaries and favorite players at Cal, soon joined the team only sealed the deal. Known as "LovinBlue" in the Colts blogging community, Laura has a particular interest in player injuries and team dynamics. She has an undergraduate business degree from Cal and MBA from Wharton.
|This entry was posted by Laura Calaway on October 23, 2010 at 9:00 am, and is filed under In the Training Room. Follow any responses to this post through . You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.