A Canadian football player’s recent helmet-to-helmet hit is causing neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator to speak out about the issues surrounding concussed athletes and their injuries. The specific injury occurred in a game September 29th, where the Winnipeg Blue Bomber’s quarterback Buck Pierce took a heavy hit.
Yes, Canada has a professional football league, and it is every bit as hard-hitting as America’s.
Tator’s concern is with how quickly players are returning to the field after substantial knocks to the head. “We do see players put back on too quickly,” Tator said to Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press. In general, you really should not go back for at least a week. A week is the minimum. And for children and youths, it should be double that because children’s brains are that much more susceptible to concussion and take that much longer to recover.”
Aside from his work at Toronto Western Hospital, Tator is the founder of ThinkFirst Canada, an awareness effort focused on educating young people about sports and safety.
Professional football players are at especially high risk because the dangers of concussions dramatically increase with every subsequent concussion. “Sometimes with repetitive concussions, [the time off] should be longer because after repeated concussions, the brain is that much more sensitive to the next one.”
The most frightening information to come out of this event comes from the comments of athletes. The Bombers’ Terrence Edwards emphasized the need to win no matter what, “even if it means lying to the doctors, that’s what you’re going to do.”
Statements like that show how the athletes are willfully putting themselves in serious danger for the sake of winning, but it is likely at the sake of their health and future. Tator strenuously pushes for athletes to be truthful when being diagnosed for head trauma, because there is still not a solid diagnostic test for concussions.
“If the patient wants to fudge it, the doctor won’t be able to detect if the patient is fudging it.”
While most Americans probably don’t take the idea of Canadian football very seriously, we should be listening to Charles Tator’s warnings. Repeated hits to the head aren’t healthy for anyone, and the way athletes handle the diagnosing procedure is highly important for their future.