It is well recognized that NFL players endure rigorous physical contact and unfortunately, this contact occasionally leads to serious injury. Helmets intended to protect the players may not be as effective as players may have been led to believe. The result has been inadequate protection against head injuries, namely concussions.
A concussion usually involves a blow to the head. Every concussion, regardless of severity, results in an injury to the brain. Doctors believe that multiple concussions over time can result in cumulative damage to the brain, affecting its neurological function to an even greater degree.
All concussions temporarily impair brain function by disrupting memory, speech, judgment, and other processes. Rest provides the best chance of a full recovery. It also helps physicians evaluate the extent of the concussion to determine how long an individual should remain out of practice and games. Players with a previous concussion and those let back in play without allowing a concussion to heal fully are more likely to sustain another concussion and to experience consequences even more detrimental to brain function.
Determined Players Rarely Took Time Out to Heal
In a sport that thrives on physicality, football players were loath to stay off the field and rest until recovered. They rarely waited for head injuries to heal fully, motivated by loyalty to their teammates, the desire to be starting players, and sacrificial mindsets that put the team ahead of the individual players.
Another problematic factor has been the influence of two older NFL board chairs who understated the true danger of head injuries. In June, the league learned of the problem and appointed new doctors to replace the dissenters.
NFL Implements Important Changes
The new doctors got to work quickly and implemented a new head injury policy just six months later. To the relief of players and their families, the NFL enacted a policy that finally took head injuries seriously. Players showing symptoms of a possible concussion will be taken out of play until both the team doctor and an independent neurologist have deemed him fully recovered.
In a further effort to increase the recognition of concussions and the potential serious consequences, the players union and the NFL will now place educational posters in team locker rooms. The materials are designed to help players recognize the most common symptoms of a head injury and encourage them to see a doctor if they exhibit any of the symptoms.
The delineating factors for why only some concussions lead to serious consequences is not clear. But when negative effects are seen, they are frequently severe and debilitating. This seems to be the impetus behind the NFL’s new era of sensitivity to player concerns over head injuries.
Similar negative attitudes in teen sports have created problems for many brain-injured teens. If your child was injured in school sports, it is important you contact our office for a free consultation and evaluation. If your child was returned to play too soon, you may be eligible for compensation to pay for your child’s injuries and medical treatment.