join the conversation

join the conversation

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Concussions Causing Serious Concerns

by Halee Heironimus

Would you believe that sports are the third leading cause of concussions?  Believe it, because over the past three years, concussions have reached a more serious level that could consequently affect the future of sports.

Coaches and officials are beginning to experience the challenges that concussions bring to sports. Head football coach Lee Owens expressed his concern for football.

“The future of the game is in danger because of head injuries,” he said.

On Monday, March 24, Secretary of the Sport Communication Club Megan Salatino held a forum regarding concussions. Students and faculty gathered in the Student Center Auditorium to receive information and get their questions answered from six panelists: Owens, Mark Hamilton, Dariela Rodriguez, Melissa Snyder, Dennis Gruber and Mike Millward.

Questions included the myths, treatments, and studies of concussions over the years. The myth concerning how concussions happen is well-known; one has to be hit in the head to be concussed. That’s proven not always true, though; concussions can also occur by a severe jolt of the body.  

Another myth about treatments is that people shouldn't rest, that they should awake every four hours.  Panelists disagreed with that myth. It’s suggested that one must rest in a dark room for at least 24 hours with no phone, television or exciting music. Any activity that raises one’s blood pressure and heart rate raises symptoms.

Rodriguez, an assistant professor of Communication Studies, compared concussion symptoms as a “grey area” because every individual’s reaction is different.

One certainty, though, is the signs of concussions: dizziness, nausea, headache and the biggest sign, emotion instability.

Millward and Gruber, Director of Athletic Training, stated the impact concussions have on emotions.
“Players will say ‘My headache is gone, but I don’t feel like myself,’” Millward said.
Dr. Gruber said, “Emotion is the last sign to resolve.”

So how many concussions are too many? When is it time to quit? Again, it’s individualized, depending on the severity and recovery.

Panelists’ stated that each concussion you have, you are more likely to have a second one. Concussions tend to get worse after the first, and symptoms last longer. Multiple concussions, or even one severe, cause the brain to deteriorate, resulting long-term consequences such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, hearing loss, behavioral issues and even death.

Thankfully, the awareness of the severity with concussions has spread over the past few years. People are beginning to realize the long-term consequences and taking “the bell was rung” more seriously. For Ashland University, staff members conduct computer testing, also known as a neurocognitive test, a balance test, an impact test and a question test on all athletes.

“We now have a better understanding of what we need to do on our end,” said Gruber.

As for Coach Owens, he’s struggling with the progress. He reflected on how the game has changed over the last two to three years in order to prevent injuries, including limited contact during practice.

“It feels like we’re taking the physical part of the game away,” he said, “But if we don’t be proactive, we will lose the game completely.”

Millward compares the progress from a different perspective.

“It’s like warriors went to battle and got betrayed for what they went to battle for,” he said.

When it comes to concussions, many factors come into play. One thing is for certain, though, and that’s to take care of head injuries right away.