Concussion Treatment, Awareness Still Continues to Be A Battle

As the demands from athletes in sports are increasing, the likelihood of those athletes staying in the game are decreasing due to injuries — namely concussions. And though the medical world has brought to light many symptoms and treatments, the lasting effects that concussions can have aren’t clearly known.

Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, the director of Athletic Medicine at Penn State and a professor in orthopaedics, said that no one can determine the weight that traumatic brain injuries can hold years from now and that it all depends on the seriousness of the concussion.

“There is no understanding of how serious the impacts of concussions have on people once they’ve occurred,” Sebastianelli said. “As a result for concern of undertreating concussions, there have been many steps taken to prevent further possible injuries.”

A study released last year by HealthDay News stated that the rate of concussions for U. S. high school athletes doubled between 2005 and 2012.

To Sebastianelli, the news comes as no surprise.

He said that the levels of energy are greater from the players, the sizes are bigger and the speed is much faster than it used to be. Sports are supposed to provide entertainment to others and offer the players a feeling of euphoria — and oftentimes, belonging — when played, but recently it’s keeping more and more athletes sidelined.

“I suffered a few concussions in my lifetime,” Connor Bellows (freshman-division of undergraduate studies). “I remember my most serious one — my junior year of high school. I got hit during practice and woke up in my trainer’s room.”

The number of incidents like Bellows’ are continuing to rise due to the lack of protection for players at all levels, in all sports.

“I think the NFL will continue to advance over time and improve conditions for players to be safe and play the game they love,” Bellows said.

Wes Welker (formerly with the Broncos and currently a free agent), for example, had three concussions in the span of ten months. Welker missed four games at the end of the 2013 season beause of the first two concussions and, after taking hit during the 2014 preseason training, was diagnosed with another concussion.

Though Welker says he is well enough to play — two years and three concussions later — many people, including teammates, are concerned with his future well-being.

Concussion-proof helmets still haven’t been created, but the NFL is taking measures to improve conditions for players by making helmets harder.

However, football is not the only concern for doctors when it comes to concussions. Sports like ice hockey, baseball and the like can be just as dangerous when it comes to head impact.

Since the United States women’s national team won the 2015 World Cup, there has been discussion on the ‘header’ technique in soccer — especially in girls’ and womens’ leagues. Bellows, however, said that the love of the game overpowers the fear of getting hit in the head and suffering from concussions.

Though the love of the game can cause athletes to overlook the risks and the possibility of a concussion, doctors encourage precautions while playing sports.

“Remain aware and diligent. The athletes or teammates should report symptoms,” Sebastianelli said. “It is not a badge of honor like it used to be to play through concussions. Take them seriously.”

Peace, love, toodles.