About Concussion in Sports
The issue of chronic encephalopathy (CTE) has been known in contact sports, in particular boxing, going back to the early 20th century.
In 2002, Dr Bennet Omalu, a Nigeria-born neuropathologist based in the US, found CTE in an NFL (American football) player when he saw the debilitating disease in the brain of Mike Webster, the Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. This finding ignited a chain of events that ultimately forced the NFL to settle a class-action lawsuit from retired players and raised awareness of the dangers of head trauma in American football.
In the same year, 2002, the England international footballer, Jeff Astle, was said by the coroner to have died from heading a football. He was later found to have CTE.
Research has confirmed that the same types of brain injuries impact those playing physical sports in the UK, including football, rugby union and rugby league. Indeed, at least one study has found that rugby is considerably more dangerous for brain injuries than American football.
Concussion and sub-concussion impact
For many sportsmen and women, the tendency is to try and recall whether they suffered a concussion which knocked them unconscious and saw them ‘seeing stars’. However, the point to emphasize is that it’s not just the big concussions that cause brain damage, but unidentified concussions – not all concussions are initially diagnosed as such – plus the relatively milder ‘sub-concussive’ blows that sportspeople experience every time they play a game or do contact training. In a recent study of an American Football team of 38 players over the course of one season, there was only two concussions, but over 19,000 sub-concussive hits.
What is sub-concussive impact?
Do you believe you may have brain damage?
Signs of concussion and sub-concussion
Concussions (and therefore sub-concussions too) can be an evolving condition, with the symptoms taking time to display themselves, while many of the symptoms require honesty from the individual (feelings of nausea, vision distortion etc.).
Symptoms of concussive and sub-concussive injuries to look out for include: