For the purpose of this essay, the topic I have chosen to discuss is head injuries, specifically concussions, obtained while playing sport. Within this topic, I will discuss the long-term effect, short-term effects, and the dangers of returning to play after such injuries. “Concussion is an injury associated with sports and is most often identified with boxing, football, ice hockey, and the martial arts” (Powell,2001). With that said, a study carried out by McCrory et al (2013) has suggested that sport-related concussions are not always easily diagnosed due to the majority of them occurring “without loss of consciousness or frank neurological signs”.
Short term immediate effects of acquiring a head injury such as a concussion are generally characterized by symptoms involving any mental status change. These mental status changes outlined by Fazio et al (2007) include “loss of consciousness (usually brief), retrograde amnesia, anterograde amnesia, and confusion/disorientation.” Along with these mental status changes, concussion often presents a variety of typically short-term symptoms that are usually short-lived and settle on their own with time.
The most common short-term symptoms include headaches closely followed by fatigue feeling lightheaded, nausea, sleep disturbance cognitive problems, etc. Following on from the short-term effects of concussion the long-term effects can lead to much more drastic problems for athletes. These long term issues range from neurocognitive to neuropsychiatric changes. A study carried out by Kontos et al 2012 concluded that “athletes experienced increased depression scores up to 14 days after concussion that coincided with neurocognitive decrements in reaction time and visual memory” and that mood assessment carried out after injuries will help monitor and enhance recovery.
Another long-term risk factor for athletes that have obtained traumatic brain injuries such as a concussion includes neurodegenerative disorders. “Epidemiologic research supports the idea that TBI is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), indicating that individuals with a history of severe TBI are at signiﬁcantly elevated risk.” (McAllister, 2017).
Due to these short-term and long-term effects caused by sports-related concussions, there is a risk factor associated with returning to play. Guidelines have been put in place to protect athletes from returning to play too soon after injury. It has been suggested by Hugenholtz et al (1982) that “The basic recommendation is that return to training and competition should be deferred until all associated symptoms such as headaches have completely resolved. “The nature of the sport and the athlete’s participation must be taken into consideration prior to any decision being made. These guidelines are important to safeguard players from causing further damage. “Any sport has an inherent risk of injury. A balance must be reached between maintaining a competitive edge in a sport and ensuring participant safety.” (Kelly et al 1997).