Special Report: Concussions Slam SHS

By Danessa Allen

The topic of concussions is now beginning to be a more widely talked about topic, not only in the medical field, but in sports as well. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury cause by a blow to the head. In this action, it causes the brain to ricochet off the skull walls, nerve cells stretch, and all neurotransmitters are released, this causes the restriction of the brain’s blood vessels.

Concussions are more often than not sports related, with over half the concussions reported in the United States related to sports–47% of those concussions are caused by football.

With concussion numbers rising, medical professionals are amazed to see that the ages of the adolescents affected are getting younger and younger each year. 4-5 million concussions are reported annually among student athletes, 1.7 million of those individuals being middle school athletes.

Approximately 248,000 children and teens go to a medical emergency facility every year because of sport related concussions. With the growing number of concussions in student athletes, people in both the community and in school districts think this is something that needs to be discussed.

Another aspect of concussions that people believe needs to be talked about is post-concussion syndrome–which is a complex disorder when symptoms like headaches and dizziness lasts for weeks or even months after a concussion occurs. There are also     more worries about the effect concussions have on the brain other than the physical symptoms. Mental health is also a larger talked about topic when it comes to concussions and their role in the individuals who get them.

The rates for mental illness in individuals who have concussions have rapidly increased, people who receive concussions are 65% more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, 59% more likely to have depression, 28% more likely to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and 439% more like to suffer from organic mental illnesses.

The epidemic of concussions has also become an issue at Sterling High School. Basketball, soccer, and track coach Brad Hessler has a very strong opinion about concussions and how the school system, not just in our district, but schools in general should handle this growing issue.

When asked how Hessler believes concussions have changed high school sports he gave a answer that is both logical and accurate in the sport’s world.

“I think concussions, and the growing discussion about the topic has changed the way athletes respond and take care of themselves and their bodies. During sports, it used to be when someone got a blow to the head, it was a “shake it off, you’ll be fine” but now it is an extreme precaution when it comes to things as serious as head injuries.” he said.

Hessler continued by saying, “I believe that continuing to talk about head injuries, especially concussions, will help both students and parents to be more careful when it comes to things of this importance.”

When it comes to discussing concussions, Hessler believes that it needs to be more widely discussed among both parents and student athletes.

“Honestly, I believe that more students need to be informed about concussions and the impact they can have on their bodies,” he said. “I think it would be extremely beneficial if Banner Health, or Centennial Mental Health could show an informational video that student athletes, parents, and coaches should watch, so they know how to look for symptoms of brain injury, and learn how it can be prevented.”

When it comes to a topic of such importance, it is very crucial that it is talked about. Both the long and short term effects that concussions have on individuals need to be more discussed, because if people are not informed, there will be no precaution when it comes to things such as brain injury.

Wrestling coach Tyler Smart has the same approach as Hessler, and he believes that concussions are a growing problem in student athletes and that it just keeps growing. As  former wrestler himself, Smart is all too familiar with concussions and their role in sports.

“Now that we are aware of the severe results of serious concussions it makes people more cautious,” he says. “Now that the science of concussions have made things more prominent and more people are trying to learn about concussions and how they can be prevented, it is becoming easier to identify concussions.”

Smart believes that not concussions necessarily, but concussion awareness is what needs to be talked about.”

He stated, “I think concussion awareness should be talked about, and I think that the grades of concussions should also be talked about because there are different levels and different severities and they all need to be talked about because there are different needs for every level of concussion and there are different ways to prevent each, and I also think that’s what needs to be talked about most. They also need to know what is and isn’t a concussion. If they can’t even identify what it is, how are they supposed to help the individual that receives it.”

The topic of concussions is extremely important to talk about and I think every school in the United States should be more informed about concussion awareness. Concussions can cause significant amounts of brain damage, and are ultimately one of the most dangerous sport related injuries.

Concussions need to be discussed more often than they currently are, and even though every student athlete signs a form for concussions and sport related injuries, they do not know much more than that.

Men typically get more concussions than women, mostly because of the activities they take part in, but both men and women are affected tremendously. Concussions in children are occurring more and more throughout the years, and the numbers only keep rising.

Student athletes that are affected by multiple concussions tend to have slower reaction times, and slowing thought processing. The effects of concussions are becoming more and more prominent with every study that is done.

Most students do not like admitting there could potentially be something severely wrong that they avoid their concussions and symptoms of the trauma. Left untreated, if an individual has multiple concussions, it can lead to symptoms as serious as seizures, which could potentially put the individual in a coma if these symptoms are severe enough.

Concussions are one of the most dangerous sports related injuries, and can have many symptoms that are potentially life-threatening if left untreated. Concussions and concussion awareness need to be more widely discussed, so we know how to prevent these traumatic brain injuries, and to help us keep ourselves and others safe.