Tag Archives: concussions

Friday Night Lights Out

“Touchdown!”

That’s the word that every football player wants the chance to hear as often as possible.

But no player wants to lose the chance because of a head injury or concussion that happened during the game.

According to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, four million high school students throughout the nation suffer head injuries and concussions every year.

In response to growing concern, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2127, which limits middle and high school football teams to only two full-contact practices per week, and prohibits contact practice during the off-season. The new football restrictions go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Ellis Green, former football player and 16-year football coach at Westlake High School, said he is already aware of how hard he pushes his players.

“It’s something you have to do in each sport, especially in football, “Green said. “However, there is a fine line when pushing a player to their limit.”

CSUN Assistant Athletic Trainer Ashley Meyer said reports of head injuries have increased, partly due to increased competitiveness, but also due to increased education among parents, coaches and trainers.

“Head injuries and concussions are such a hot topic right now,” Meyer said. “People are more aware of it, of what to look for, and how to prevent it. It is more so an increase of diagnosis than in the number of athletes.”

Green said football concussions were practically unheard of when he started coaching sixteen years ago, but now they are a main topic of concern.

“What this means is that coaches need to try to educate themselves, so that they can help educate the parents, and therefore educate their kids,” he said.

Meyer listed five key symptoms of identifying a concussion:

  • Headache
  • Fracture (contact head-to-head or head-to-ground)
  • Abnormal presentation of a person’s behavior (ex. feeling nauseous, dizzy, taking long to respond to questions)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Spotty vision

“We look at things such as long-term or short-term memory,” Meyer said. “We ask the [player] to remember a few words, and ask them few basic cognition questions. Balance is also another key thing, as they can’t fake that.”

June Dubreuil, who has three football-playing sons, emphasized the parents’ responsibility to be actively involved in their children’s safety.

“I will spend the money on helmets, shoulder pads and whatever else is necessary for my sons, even if I don’t have the money,” she said. “Football is a brutal sport and I want to protect my children.”

Green said football isn’t the only brutal sport.

“As of recent, football has gotten a bad rep,” he said. “There have been injuries in other sports like soccer, hockey and basketball, but you don’t hear about it all the time. It’s because football has two players banging their head against one another as they’re tackling. It’s a contact sport, but there’re a lot of contact sports.”

Green said the bond between a coach and trainer is important to injury prevention.

“There used to be a time where coaches didn’t like to hear a trainer’s input because they would remove a player off the game,” he said, “but times have changed now, as a coach understands where a trainer is coming from now.”

Many involved in youth sports say the benefits outweigh the risks.

“It’s really great, especially in team sports, having to learn how to depend on other people, and trust other people, and communicate effectively with other people, and work towards a common goal,” Meyer said, “and that’s a huge thing for people to learn, especially as a child or a young adult.”

“I have three boys,” Dubreuil said, “…and they were very physical, and keeping them active and in positive activities, it kept them from fighting, and it kept my china closet intact, and it was fun…and they care about winning and losing, and that’s important…They’re the men that they are because of athletics.”

“Very few [high school athletes] are going to become professional athletes, “Green said. “But all of them are going to have to go into the working world, and that’s where they’re going to show what they learned on the football field.”

 

Moderator: Candice Curtis

Producer: Candice Curtis

Anchor: Stephanie Murguia

Reporters: Danny Max, Bryan Ramirez, Stephanie Murguia and Gabriela Rodriguez

Social Media Editor: Gabriela Rodriguez

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Addiction to Sports Blinds Us to the Danger

Many Americans have spent many hours laughing at those online videos showing people getting hurt. Many of the stars of these videos are athletes, who get hurt while playing sports. But sports-related injuries are no laughing matter; they can be quite serious, even deadly, and many athletes, as well as members of the medical community, are starting to take notice.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association estimates that 1.3 to 3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreation-related activities every year.

Alex Burdeski, a CSUN student and an ice hockey player for 15 years, said he believes that injuries are “part of the game.” Burdeski broke his femur while playing ice hockey.

“I was on crutches for six months and when I got the clearance to get off the crutches I started skating again,” Burdeski said.

The effects of sport-related injuries are the reason why more than 2,000 former NFL players filed a lawsuit against the league this past June in Philadelphia. The suit claims the league is withholding imperative information that links football-related injuries, like concussions, to long-term brain damages.

“A concussion is basically an acceleration/deceleration injury,” said Dr. Eric Sletten, director of CSUN Sports Medicine, who has treated student-athletes for over 20 years. “What happens is the brain is shocked for a moment, to lead to different levels of consciousness.”

Sletten believes that the long-term effects of sports-related injuries can be traced to the violence in America’s sports-obsessed culture in American.

“I would love to see some of the violence toned down because I don’t think it needs to exist,” Sletten said. “We’ve turned into cage-fighting. It’s against the law to put a dog or rooster into a cage and fight, but we’ll put in a human.”

J.P. Gale is the coordinator of CSUN Sports Clubs, and the coach of CSUN’s ice hockey team. He said he agrees that violence is so embedded into the culture of sports that it would be close to impossible to remove it.

“Taking the violence out of boxing or mixed martial arts is elimination of the sport entirely,”  Gale said. “Kids and adults need to take personal responsibility and understand of the effects of what’s possible.”

Even President Barack Obama has expressed concern about violence in college football.

‘‘You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth, and then have nothing to fall back on. That’s something that I’d like to see the NCAA think about,” Obama told The New Republic.

The NCAA promotes student-athlete health and safety. The organization tracks sport-related injuries to help understand the cause and minimize the risks. Soccer is one of the monitored sports, and it continues to grow every year. Soccer players are susceptible to sports-related injuries because of the quick changes of direction and lateral movements required by the game. From 2004-2009, there were more than 55,000 injuries, and soccer players were exposed to a possibility of an athletic injury 7.1 million times. Soccer players are also three times more likely to get injured during a game than a during a practice.

Sean Franklin is a defender on the LA Galaxy soccer team and a former Cal-State Northridge student. He said he has experience with the risks of playing soccer. Franklin had sports hernia surgery in 2009, after three weeks of pain in his lower abdomen. He had continued to play despite the pain.

“The trainers ultimately make the decision whether you can play or not,” Franklin said. “You kind of have to ‘man-up’ and do it for your teammates, for your fans, and your organization.”

A sports hernia is defined by the National Council of Strength and Fitness as “an overuse injury caused by repetitive tissue stress.” Athletes are more prone to suffer from this injury if their sport requires “high speed movements, fast direction changes and/or forceful kicking motions.”

“With a contact sport you’re going to have the warrior mentality,” said hockey coach J.P Gale. “They’ve been taught to play through pain, especially if you’re a better player or a player heavily relied on.”

Gale’s brother, Chris, has played ice hockey since he was three. At 13, Chris broke two bones in his lower back and wore a back-brace for 8 months. But despite his traumatic injury and the risks of other injuries, Chris continues playing the sport.

“I live for the game,” he said. “That’s really what’s kept me driven and kept me going.”

CSUN doctor Eric Sletten said he believes that warrior mentality is decreasing as student-athletes are provided with proper techniques for avoiding injuries. They are now being taught about the risks of sport-related injuries and the possible long-term effects they have, but Sletten said athletes’ passion for their sports may make some overlook the risks.

“One of the most important and hardest decisions I make is to disqualify an athlete,” he said. “Sometimes I have to step in and I have to be your 40-year old brain instead of your 20-year old brain.” Sletten said having a third party on the sidelines to bench injured players for their own safety is one way to maintain the health of college athletes, but he said athletes should learn to protect themselves.

“Injuries are tough and some are more severe than others,” Galaxy player Sean Franklin agreed. “ It’s one of those things where you have realize that there’s more out there than the sport that you play. At the end of the day if I feel that it’s something that will jeopardize my future off the field, then I will definitely step away from the game.”

Anchor: Kiera McKibbens

Moderator: Jonathan Gonzalez

Reporters: Bianca Santillon & Eniola Jose

Producers: Ian Tang & Mona Adem

 

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