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Football & Concussions: When “No Pain, No Gain” Doesn’t Apply

“Put me back in, coach!” It’s a common plea from injured football players who think they can push through the pain. While this may be a reasonable request for something as minor as a hangnail, it’s quite a different story when the pain involves something as serious as a blow to the head. Even though athletes are trained to be team players and put mind over matter, they are ultimately doing themselves and their team a disservice if they cannot play in the long-term. Aggravating an injury by continuing to play their sport in the midst of coping with a possible concussion is ill-advised and can cause severe injuries or even death if a player isn’t pulled from the field and given medical treatment.

What Is a Concussion?

Concussions are a mild traumatic brain injury, and very common among football players. They are caused by direct blows to the head, or from the head being shaken violently back and forth. This invisible injury often makes it easy for football players to conceal from teammates and their coach, especially if the blow to the head wasn’t obvious. Sometimes symptoms of a concussion are more easily detectable, such as noticing the player acts dazed or, of course, if they were knocked unconscious. More often, symptoms are much more subtle, and they may even be delayed.

Signs of a concussion that indicate a player should be removed from gameplay include:

  • Acting dazed
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability or personality changes

Why It’s Dangerous to Play After Sustaining a Concussion

Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) happens when a second blow to the head occurs before the person has had time to sufficiently recover from a concussion. It can occur if the athlete continues playing right after sustaining a concussion, or even the weeks following a head injury. When this happens, the brain cannot auto regulate intracranial and cerebral perfusion pressure, which can cause a cerebral edema and even a deadly brain hernia. Although rare, this possibility should be taken seriously. If you suspect a player has suffered SIS, you should immediately dial 911 for emergency medical attention, as this can be fatal.

Encouraging Good Sportsmanship in Football Players

It’s common that anyone who suffers a blow to the head won’t seek medical care, and it’s estimated that as many as 50% of concussions go unreported. Athletes in particular are trained to be a good team player and push through physical pain. It would be difficult for a star quarterback to voluntarily choose to stop playing when the stakes are high and a championship is on the line, but it is vital to ensuring their health and safety, as well as their continued ability to play once they have healed.

Part of ensuring safe sports culture is celebrating hard work and dedication, but educating players that they must take their wellbeing seriously. Coaches can do their part to enforce the rules of fair play, safety, and sportsmanship. Players must wear a well-maintained helmet that is appropriately certified for use, and wear it consistently and correctly. Although no helmet is concussion-proof in any sport, this can limit the damage a concussion can inflict.

If you have sustained a concussion, stop playing your sport immediately and seek urgent medical attention. Contact Advance ER at (214) 494-8222 or contact us today to learn more.