AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — It’s the most wonderful time of the year for many of us: football season.
But with the excitement of the gladiators on the gridiron, come the many risks of injury to the body and the brain.
“A concussion is a short-term short-lived entity that can happen once,” said Dr. James Parker, an Orthopedic Surgeon at Parker Sports Medicine & Orthopedics in Amarillo, “It can happen more than once of course. With concussions are that they the initial symptoms are pretty obvious -headache, blurry vision, memory loss.”
When it comes to concussions, age is more than just a number.
“There’s reports out there that show and the high school athletes which they take longer than the college athlete to recover from, from concussions. That a high school athlete that has one concussion is three times more likely to suffer a second concussion,” he explained.
In the last decade, there’s been a major focus on brain health in contact sports. Most notably surrounding concussions and how repeated blows to the head can cause athletes to develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which Dr. Parker says is damage or death to the brain’s neural cells.
“The problem there lies into when you develop CTE, you can have all sorts of symptoms and long term problems with our early age or early onset dementia, Parkinson’s syndrome, and problems with balance, problems with memory loss, which is of course, dementia. But there’s a myriad of long-term symptoms which can lead people to ultimately becoming very nonfunctional,” he said.
But, you don’t have to be an athlete or even be active to suffer a concussion.
“Anybody who suffers some sort of head trauma, whether that is in a recreational basketball league, where they fall and hit their head on the court, or whether that’s in some sort of home accident. They should be aware that concussions are real,” said Dr. Lorna Strong, the head of the Sports & Exercise Sciences Department at West Texas A&M University. “And be aware of monitoring themselves and or their loved ones. Concussions in and of themselves can interact with previous events. So in many of our injuries, we have an injury we get over it, we go on with concussion, there can be lingering effects.”
In the meantime, athletes and sports leagues continue to work to make sports safer, by introducing a multitude of new and innovative equipment, and rules to take some of the hard hits and impact out of games.