Facing concussions head-on
Unlike an ankle, a brain is irreplaceable when injured, but unfortunately, oftentimes, the injuries are treated similarly.
On Saturday, University of Michigan quarterback Shane Morris immediately showed signs of a concussion after a tough hit in the fourth quarter against Minnesota. He took a couple of seconds to get up, leaning on his teammate to stand.
The signs were apparent to fans but not to the coaches and medical staff. The quarterback sprained his ankle earlier in the game, so the examiner assumed his stumble was due to his ankle injury.
The staff decided he could play, so Morris was sent back in the game. He was later diagnosed with a mild concussion.
Mishandled concussions with athletes have created a worldwide debate and a push for better protocol.
The NCAA official rule says a player has to leave the field for any suspected head injury to be immediately evaluated and can only return to play if he or she is cleared by medical personnel.
Since Saturday, fans have accused Coach Brady Hoke and Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon of a miscommunication that could have resulted in life-threatening consequences for Morris.
Some fans are refusing to wear Michigan gear until both Brandon and Hoke are fired. Bobby Dishell, Michigan’s student body president, made a statement accusing the entire athletic department for not caring about the well-being of its student-athletes.
Concussions in football have gained the majority of media attention recently, but the debate was also prevalent over the summer at the 2014 World Cup.
Although players don’t wear pads and helmets, head-contact injuries are just as common in soccer as they are in football. Some argue they are more common.
German player Christoph Kramer took a blow to the head during a game, but coaches were reluctant to take him out due to the three-substitute rule. The clearly dazed athlete continued to play for another 14 minutes.
Because teams are only allowed to exchange players three times, oftentimes coaches are pressured to keep their player in the game to not waste a sub.
Oftentimes a player lies to the medic, says he feel fine and returns to play. A player shouldn’t be making that decision. It needs to be a medical professional who can look past the sub rule and focus on the health of the athlete.
Although head injuries are unavoidable, there have been improvements in the past few years with how to better handle the injuries when they do happen.
ImPACT testing was created in 2010 to help detect concussions. The test has a series of sections that judge memory and reaction time. A baseline test is taken by the athlete at the beginning of their season and then again after a concussion is suspected. It’s used to compare an athlete’s possibly damaged brain to his or her normally functioning brain.
A few weeks ago in practice, our keeper collided with two other players and was immediately taken off the field for a concussion examination. Because she was dizzy and had a severe headache, she wasn’t allowed to return. Although her symptoms went away, she continually failed the ImPACT test because her brain was still damaged.
Leagues across the United States and even world organizations such as FIFA continue to propose new policies and procedures such as ImPACT.
Although strides have been made, head injuries haven’t been taken seriously in the past by coaches and players alike.
But the uproar from Michigan fans means we’re at least headed in the right direction.