Head Injuries in sport

Thursday, 25th June 2015

Given the potential implications of suffering a serious injury in a sporting environment, it is vital that appropriate medical professionals are on standby to immediately assess the individual and remove them from the game if necessary.  It is important that steps are taken to prevent any second concussion occurring that might impact upon the brain's ability to recover and/or cause any worsening of the condition. 

A mild traumatic brain injury is similar to concussion in that the individual suffers from headaches and lack of concentration. 

Mild head injuries affect the nerve cells surrounding the walls of the brain, preventing the nerve cells from communicating effectively and causing the difficulties for the individual.

The immediate effects of concussion cause the individual to be dazed, confused and sometimes lose consciousness. They may also suffer poor balance, confusion, feeling of being sick and an acute headache, as well as poor memory. Head injuries can cause ongoing problems of memory loss.

However, in order for a concussion to have occurred there does not have to be a loss of consciousness. The use of headgear does nothing to prevent a concussion from occurring.

Repeating concussions in a sporting environment or during the course of a match will result in further injury being worse in severity because the brain hasn’t had time to heal. 

In rugby, players approach a tackle very fast and are very strong both in weight and size.  The force of the collision on two adult players colliding will be the same as them being involved in a car accident at 30mph.  Head injuries are, therefore, very common in rugby and  other contact sports.

Concussion doesn’t just arise from an injury to the head. If an individual is hit at force somewhere within the body, that force will travel to the brain and, therefore, still result in concussion occurring.  A severe blow to the chest might, therefore, still result in concussion.

If an individual suffers from multiple concussions over a period of time they are going to take a longer to recover.  This may cause long term problems with their memory, lack of concentration, inability to pay attention or mentally process more than one thing at a time.

After sustaining concussion in a sporting environment, although the individual may pass all of the cognitive tests given to them, their brain may actually be having to work a lot harder than before in order to complete the tests than it did previously.

Exeter Chiefs have launched a new project called "Sports Safety" to enable them to explore how accidents happened and how to avoid them in the future by playing back video footage.

 

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