youth-football-by-ronald-carlsonThe short answer is yes; there is a connection between the position a football player holds and concussion. But there’s more to the story. There is a connection between college football players and concussions – period. The study showed there is only a one in seven chance that college football players will report concussion symptoms.

A study conducted by Harvard University and Boston University looked at 730 Football Championship Series players. The study concluded that in all, college players suffered six possible concussions and 21 “dings” to the head for every diagnosed concussion. The study also showed that offensive linemen were the least likely to come forward about their injuries. In fact, offensive linemen suffered 62 percent more suspected concussions and 52 percent more dings than players in other positions.

There are two major take-aways from this study.

First, I want to talk about the offensive linemen. We know that concussion and subconcussive injuries are associated with short-term and long-term neurologic impairment. In the study, some of the reported symptoms included dizziness, headache, and seeing stars. Offensive linemen reported the highest amount of these symptoms. But they also reported the highest rate of returning to play while still experiencing symptoms. The authors concluded that offensive linemen who experience frequent low magnitude head injuries develop more post-impact symptoms than players in other positions. They don’t report their symptoms and they are more likely to follow the old “play through the pain” cultural norm, ignore their symptoms and return to play.

Would we ask someone with an obvious deformity of the leg to play? In the past, concussions, or as I prefer to call them, “temporary traumatic brain injuries”, were largely unrecognized. They were not obvious! But we know what to look for now. Which brings us to the second take-away – the culture of the college football industry.

Denial about the danger of concussions is cultural. This study was not all that broad. It was conducted at 10 universities. The NFL and NCAA have publicly made concussion a priority issue. But if we are seeing these numbers in 10 universities, we can bet it is similar throughout university settings where the “playing through the pain” concept is alive and well. Clearly, the concussion education and awareness campaigns working their way across the country are stopped at the doors of colleges and universities. This has to change.

Different sports are recognizing and addressing chronic injuries, Baseball pitchers are limited in the number of pitches they throw. Basketball players are rested during different times in the season. Football is starting to limit the number of full contact practices. Studies like the one discussed will hopefully lead to making football, and by extension, all sports safer.

As technology improves, we will do an even better job of recognizing these injuries. One promising technology is the accelerometer, which measures the force of impact of head injuries. Baseline neurocognitive testing and post-injury testing provide accurate and useful means for measuring concussion. We offer this test at Impact Urgent Care. It is a proven and effective way to identify temporary traumatic brain injuries. Taking advantage of this test means we will not have to rely only on reported symptoms. But changing the “one out of seven” statistic requires both technology and a cultural shift. That is what will ultimately protect players.

Related Posts

  • 51
    With Super Bowl madness winding down, the issue of concussion is coming up. And once again, we’re talking about the NFL. I’m a great fan of football, and Sunday found me like it did 111.5 million other viewers - sitting in front of the TV watching the match-up between Seattle…
    Tags: concussion, players, football, head, injuries
  • 50
    NFL Linebacker Chris Borland’s recent decision was a brave one; he walked away from a $3 million contract over the issue of concussions. Last August, the 24-year old Borland was just starting out as a rookie linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. During his first training camp he suffered a…
    Tags: concussion, players, concussions, injuries, football, head, play, will
  • 45
    In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal reported that the NCAA, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, is undertaking a 3 year $30 million dollar study pertaining to head injuries and concussions. Of note, the NCAA has already agreed to pay $75 million to settle a class…
    Tags: concussion, study, concussions, head, injuries, reported, football
  • 44
    A proper concussion management program requires many people filling many roles to be successful. A successful clinic requires many people filling many roles to provide exceptional patient care. I would be unable to do my job without the support that I have. Tranette Ledford is one of those people. In…
    Tags: concussion, head, injuries, concussions
  • 43
    Kudos to Trinity Christian Academy in Addison Texas. This school serves as a great example of how to strategically handle the aftermath of concussion among young athletes. You may have heard the recent NPR story on this subject. For those who didn’t, here’s the condensed version. A Trinity football player…
    Tags: concussion, football, symptoms, head, concussions, injuries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *