It isn’t uncommon for professional football players to get hit hard enough to forget where they are, what the score is, or what quarter it is. That’s what happened to the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III on Sunday, when he incurred a concussion. Specifically, as Mike Shanahan calls it, a “mild” concussion.
By proclaiming Griffin’s injuries to be a “mild” concussion, Shanahan continues a tradition of the NFL where almost all concussions are supposedly mild.
The thing is, all concussions are serious medical injuries. Will Brinson at CBSSports.com says calling a concussion mild is like telling someone that you are “kind of pregnant.” A concussion is medically called a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and traumatic is much closer to depicting the seriousness of the injury.
The main reason sports professionals and some health professionals continue to use the term “mild concussion” is that the injury is not immediately life threatening. It also makes it less troublesome when the players are back out on the field a week later.
What they gloss over is a TBI can have potentially serious effects weeks or even months later, and repeated concussions exponentially raise the risk with each subsequent injury.
This is why, at this point, the term “mild concussion” is practically a marketing lie. The business of the NFL relies on these players putting themselves in a dangerous position week after week, and proper treatment for a traumatic brain injury could take a player off the field for a lengthy period.
Now, however, we have evidence piling up that concussions are anything but “mild,” and it is time we get rid of such a false term. No matter how much money is at stake, player safety should still be a primary concern. Repeated traumatic brain injuries may not be immediately life threatening, but without proper treatment, they can have grave consequences.