Contact sport concussions may cause trauma
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 16:09
In contact sports, like professional wrestling and football, where brutality is common, injury is guaranteed to follow with concussions.
In June 2007, pro wrestler Chris Benoit committed suicide after killing his wife and son. The media would quickly jump on the story, stating it was steroid abuse that led Benoit to his death.
According to sciencedaily.com, former pro wrestler Christopher Nowinski suggested to the late wrestler’s father two months later, that brain trauma could have played a part in Benoit’s death.
Nowinski, who was forced to retire from pro wrestling after suffering from post-concussion syndrome, wrote “Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis.”
The book discusses the dangers of concussions in contact sports.
After Nowinski’s suggestions, tests were then conducted on Benoit’s brain at West Virginia University by WVU’s neurosurgery department Chairman Julian Bailes.
According to braininjuryinstitute.org, Dr. Bailes determined that with Benoit’s physically demanding career, performing dangerous moves, such as his signature “flying head butt,” led to severe brain damage.
Bailes compared it to the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient with an advanced form of dementia.
The diagnosis of Benoit’s brain matched those of four retired NFL players who had suffered multiple concussions leading to depression and violent behavior.
One of the four football players is retired Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Andre Waters.
Waters committed suicide in November 2006. Shortly after his death, his family was also approached by Nowinski to have Waters’ brain tissue examined. University of Pittsburgh neuropathologist Bennet Omaulu then received the results of the examination.
Dr. Omaulu reported on braininjuryinstitute.org, that Waters’ brain tissue had also degenerated similar to a brain of an Alzheimer’s patient. He believed the damage was related to the multiple concussions he had suffered in his football career, similar to Benoit’s case.
Football is the most common sport for concussion risk with a 75 percent chance for NFL players. During just one season, a player will receive 900 to 1,500 hits directly to the head.
According to nfl.com, data showed that in 2008, 115 concussions were reported from preseason games up to the eighth week of the regular season. The number increased to 127 in 2009 and again the next year with 154 concussions reported.
With this data now being brought to the public’s attention, the NFL seems to have taken some safety measures to limit the risks of this particular injury.
After Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Desean Jackson suffered his second concussion from a hit by Atlanta Falcon cornerback Dunta Robinson, Jackson was given a special helmet created to limit the risk of future concussions.
Designed by Schutt Sports, Jackson’s helmet has more cushioning and air-filled pockets than the standard football helmet to blunt the force of hits.
The question arises, however, as to why this type of equipment has not been given to all NFL players. The answer could be that the organization’s primary helmet manufacturer, Riddell Sports, Inc., does not design Jackson’s type of helmet.
Hopefully, that will change in the future as safer equipment would be beneficial to these players.
After Benoit’s passing, sports entertainment company World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) banned all chair shots aimed at the skull and grew stricter with moves that targeted the head.
While there seems to be some improvement in certain sports to lower the risk of concussions, there is still much to be done as more research needs to be conducted on this specific injury.
Without having the knowledge about the effect it has on athletes, concussion will continue to be the epidemic in sports.