Contact Sports Are Exciting, TBIs Not so Much
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 4 million sports-related concussions are reported every year. That figure does not include boxing, workplace accidents, slip and fall accidents, or car accidents.
Concussions, or mild TBI, are the result of the brain smashing into the skull, causing brain tissues to swell and nerves to be injured. Head trauma may lead to a variety of symptoms, such as ringing in the ears, balance issues, nausea, fatigue, visual problems, memory, and difficulty concentrating.
Doctors use three grades to classify concussions. Grade I is a mild concussion, which lasts for less than 15 minutes and does not cause the person to lose consciousness. Likewise, grade II does not cause loss of consciousness, but the concussion lasts longer than 15 minutes. Grade III causes loss of consciousness, even if only for a few seconds.
If team doctors, trainers, or coaches suspect a player has suffered head trauma, he or she should evaluate the player’s short- and long-term recall and check the player’s reflexes and overall coordination. Unfortunately, many players are sent back onto the field, including Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, who suffered a concussion in a helmet-to-helmet collision with a member of the opposing team in 2011.
“He was basically out (cold) after the hit,” his father, Brad McCoy, told the media. “You could tell by the rigidity of his body as he was laying there. There were a lot of easy symptoms that should’ve told them he had a concussion. He was nauseated and he didn’t know who he was. From what I could see, they didn’t test him for a concussion on the sidelines. They looked at his left hand.”
Colt McCoy sat out for three minutes and 50 seconds but was allowed to play the remainder of the fourth quarter.
Coach Pat Shurmur assured ESPN that the team’s medical staff followed protocol. According to cleveland.com, doctors decided not to test McCoy for a concussion. League spokesman Greg Aiello said he would review that decision with the team.
“There are league-wide problems in the procedure, and that’s what needs to be addressed,” said Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, whose best friend and former teammate Steve Gleason may have developed Lou Gehrig’s disease as a result of on-the-field head trauma.