Sports and Brain Injury

Every year, more than 300,000 people in the United States suffer traumatic brain injury during a sporting event. These injuries do not need to be severe in order to be dangerous; in fact, some of the most debilitating head injuries are the result of an accumulation of small concussions. As one might expect, the sport with the highest incidence of head injury is football. The potential for helmet-to-helmet collisions makes concussions and more severe injuries unfortunately common in football. Other sports that have a high rate of head injury are boxing, gymnastics, and wrestling. It is important to remember that enduring a brain injury makes it more likely that one will suffer further injury in the future. There are a few ways that sports-related brain injury can be minimized, however. For one thing, contact sports like football, hockey, and lacrosse should only be played with the appropriate head gear.

This means a helmet with face guard. In baseball, the batter should always wear a helmet with an ear guard on the side of the head that faces the pitcher. Participants in sporting events should never be allowed to play if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Before the beginning of an athletic event, all participants should fully warm up and stretch. Research suggests that athletes who have warmed up before an event are better able to control their bodies and avoid falling awkwardly. Finally, athletes should be cautioned against any actions that could endanger their own health or the health of others. Referees should administer swift and appropriate penalties against any participants who endanger themselves or others. With these rules in place, the risk of brain injury during athletic events can be minimized.


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