Just because it is now officially the off-season for the NFL doesn’t mean the NFL’s woes are going away. The game is played by men who average 250 pounds, with some who are much heavier, made of pure muscle, and whose primary goal is to slam into each other as hard as they have to in order to stop the other.
Now, everyone is learning about the damages it can do to the brain, and high profile doctors, athletes, politicians, and anyone else with an opinion is speaking publicly about traumatic brain injury. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent and practicing neurosurgeon, is the latest to leap into the conversation.
Dr. Gupta was speaking with KMIR News from Palm Springs, CA, and initially he issued the same concerns most doctors cite when beginning to offer their thoughts about the issue; the same problems haunting football.
“You see people with memory loss, remember these are young people.. You see people with early on-set Alzheimer’s or stroke-like symptoms and they are only in their 20’s or 30’s.”
What Gupta wanted everyone to realize is how the terminology effects our handling of the injury. “A concussion is a brain injury. and terms do matter. As soon as you call it a brain injury everyone’s attitude changes a bit.. From people on sidelines to players, its not just getting your bell rung. That’s a brain injury,” he said.
This terminology war is actually one of the biggest issues holding back the psychological handling of traumatic brain injuries. A huge portion of the population have pre-conceived notions about concussions, which mostly consist of “you just got knocked silly.” It is treated as a non-severe fact of life that happens at least a couple times for everyone through their life.
This is fairly true, as a lot of people do suffer one or maybe two concussions through their life, and most of the time they are non-severe. However, a single brain injury can do a lot of damage, which takes time to heal. The less time between brain injuries, the more damage gets built up. When you have players who may be getting multiple concussions in a single game, it isn’t surprising their brains are being destroyed.