Florida Considers Risks of Concussions in Football, Part One

Concerns about the long-term risks of concussions in sports have been sparking debates over rules in football organizations at all levels. For decades, football coaches, players, trainers and organizations have been negligent to the fact that concussions can cause serious brain injuries in football players. And we are not just talking about professional players; we are talking about football players from youth through adulthood.

Brain injuries can be difficult to diagnose. “When you have a head injury inside a skull, you cannot see it,” said the director of University of South Florida’s Sports Medicine and Related Trauma Institute (SMART). He continued, “You don’t know if someone’s behavioral episodes or memory episodes are quite frankly any different than before.”

Often times, injuries resulting from repetitive blows to the head remain hidden and are misdiagnosed. Dozens of football players at the professional, collegiate and high school level have died from such hidden injuries that were never diagnosed.

Although professional football teams have several trainers on the sidelines to diagnose concussions after a hard hit, high school players don’t have the same luxury. This has the media, congress and football organizations concerned that some rules need to change.

Athletic and medical organizations around the nation have announced their support for new policies and practices when it comes to how the game of football is played and the proper treatment for concussions. This month, the NFL and the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA) publicized their effort to implement state laws of concussion prevention.

The president of the Athletic Trainers’ Association of Florida also plans to submit a concussion prevention bill that would include high school and youth sports. Although the public and the state of Florida are becoming more aware that repeated hits to the head in sports such as football can lead to a severe injury, more needs to be done to educate players and organizations. Later this week, we will discuss in greater detail how concussions especially affect our youth sports players.

Sources:The Tampa Tribune: “Concussion concerns are changing football, but it’s still hit and miss,” Mary Shedden, 28 Dec. 2010
The Tampa Tribune: “It’s no game: Head Injuries in high school sports,” Mary Shedden and Katherine Smith, 8 Aug. 2010