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Teenagers And Head Related Injuries


Image by F. Tronchin via Flickr

Professional football players are rewarded substantial amounts of money for playing the entertaining yet violent game of football. For many high school and college players, the risk is worth the reward, the reward being the potential millions a player can earn in the NFL.

The real risk of playing football can manifest itself not at the professional level,but at the high school level where young teenage players are subjected to violent hits that can hamper their physical and mental development. According to the Center for Disease Control, almost 2 million adolescent players suffer from brain injuries every year. Another scary statistic by the CDC points out that as much as 80% of concussion related injuries are undiagnosed, meaning that it is likely there is a silent epidemic among current and former players.

A concussion, according to Jonah Lehrer of Wired,”is not a bruise. It is not a sprain. There is no bodily metaphor for what happens when the Jell-O of cortex accelerates into the skull. Although the brain is surrounded by a cushion of cerebrospinal fluid, a severe impact or abrupt change in head speed can push those three pounds of meat straight through the fluid, so that it crashes into the cranium.”

Just imagine how it would feel if you got hit by a vehicle moving at a speed of 20 mph. That’s the level of impact a player can receive when hit by an opposing player(s). High School football is at the epicenter of the concussion epidemic because these brain injuries can interfere with the mental development of teenage players. Depression, headaches, memory loss, and blurred vision, are just some of the effects of head trauma that can impeded a players mental and physical growth.

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The Concussion Problem in the NFL

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft.

Image via Wikipedia

During football season fans from around the country gather at sport bars and barbecues to watch their favorite NFL or college team.  It’s safe to say the popularity of professional and college football has grown in recent years. Its popularity is mainly attributed to its violent and exciting nature.

Besides touchdowns, fans love seeing the big hits. The thrill of watching a linebacker brutally tackle an opposing player is one of the main reasons why fans watch the game.  That being said, the violent nature of NFL football is taking a big toll on current and former players.

Today players are bigger, faster, and stronger then ever before. In the NFL today there are over 500 players listed who weigh at least 300 pounds. Getting hit by players that size and weight will certainly increase the chance of injury, especially concussions. A study in 2001 reported that over 61% of former NFL players had concussions during their career. An example is former Dallas Cowboy star Troy Aikman who was forced to retire due to 10 concussions he received throughout his career.

Side effects from concussions and other head injuries include chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). A form of dementia that leads to memory loss and disrupts mental functioning.  The long term consequences of concussions is leading the NFL to look at how to deal with this growing epidemic. A great place to start is with the equipment that NFL players use.

The technology used by the NFL is having a hard time keeping up with the players. The players are hitting harder while the equipment designed to protect them is failing to keep up. Using cushioning systems like the MitiGator which absorbs violent impacts while protecting the subject from external events such as a hit by another player would certainly reduce the chance of a concussion or other head related injures.

The MitiGator would be ideal for NFL helmets since it’s lightweight and can contour to the shape of the helmet while providing maximum protection and comfort. The MitiGator can be applied to other equipment if need be.  Using the right technology is the first step to address this growing health issue that is affecting so many players.  However no matter how much protection a player has, the risk of injury can never be eliminated due to the violent nature  of NFL football.

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