Concussions continue to be a major topic not only in professional sports, but also now in the college and high school ranks. So, why are we focusing so much on concussion?
There’s now evidence to show that concussions can sometimes cause irreversible changes to the brain. So what was once thought of as a minor, short-term injury has become a much bigger deal due to concussion’s long-term effects.
Another issue is the fact that athletes today are bigger, stronger and faster. Therefore, the energy and force behind collisions are much more significant to the brain. So much so, I’m not sure even with better helmets and equipment we can eliminate concussions from contact or collision sports.
Yesterday, I spoke with George MCFLY of 1590 WAKR about this topic.
Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.
MCFLY: Now joining us on the phone from Akron Children’s, Dr. Joe Congeni. Good morning, Dr. Joe.
DR. CONGENI: Hey, George. How ya doin’?
MCFLY: I am doing well. Thank you for, uh, spending a few minutes with us here this morning. Concussion continues to be the topic of conversation in the NFL. I’m reading more stories now about concussions, uh, in the high school ranks.
More stories coming out and this is nothing new, but I got to question why all of a sudden is it becoming more common? Is it the equipment just, eh, not good enough to protect [athletes], especially football players?
DR. CONGENI: So, in the area … about why the, uh, increase in concussion, um, the focus on concussion is exactly, you know, what I think kinda you’re getting at is people are looking down the road a little bit.
[They’re] seeing that although these used to be viewed as kind of, uh, short-term, not-a-big-deal [injury], um, now we’ve kinda looked down the road and [have] seen that there are sometimes irreversible changes in the brain and there are some long-term effects sometimes.
And so, it’s become a really big deal, and the class action lawsuits and the other issues that go with it. So, that’s the problem with concussion.
And, no, I really don’t think it’s an equipment issue. I think the problem is the athletes are bigger, stronger and faster and so the collisions are, you know, much more significant — the increase in the, uh, energy in the collisions. I think that’s really the problem is the force that’s applied to the brain with the snapback, the whiplash or the head-to-head type, um, blows.
And these injuries in baseball, these 2 plays that we talked about, the plays at the plate and the takeout slide have a high rate of concussion as well because baseball players just are not used to this kind of play.
So, um, yeah, I think that’s part of the problem with concussion is that athletes are bigger, stronger, faster and even with the helmets and the, uh, better equipment, I’m not sure that we’re gonna be able to eliminate these from the sports that are contact or collision.
MCFLY: Dr. Joe Congeni, Akron Children’s Hospital.