by Topher Toffoli
Injuries are becoming more prevalent in high contact sports as players move towards being bigger, stronger, and faster. In ice hockey as many as 66% of hockey players have experience a head injury known as a concussion, which is a mild to severe trauma to the brain caused by the soft brain tissue hitting the hard skull. Injuries can cause serious long-term damage to the parts of the brain responsible for memory, judgment, social conduct, reflexes, speech, balance and co-ordination. These parts, which are located in the frontal and parietal lobes, are hit against the brain and damaged by bleeding and bruising from contact with the hard cranium. Researchers at Albert Einstein college of Medicine used diffusion tensor imaging to find that damage from concussion can cause loss in higher level thinking from planning evens to personality change. They also found that 30% of people sustaining these injuries had long terms affects associated to memory and personality.
Although this problem is very serious since the diagnoses of a “Concussion” have become so main stream players are unaware of the consequences and thus return to play too soon. 40% of younger players and 30% of adult players could not recognize symptoms and believed that they could return to play after two days with mild headaches. Researchers have found that by being diagnosed as having a concussion instead of re-wording it as brain trauma can have drastic effects on the perception of the injury to the patients. Patients diagnosed with a concussion rather than brain trauma were more than twice as likely to return to school and athletics before doctors orders allowed them too. The simple familiarity of the word concussion is putting people at risk. This is due to the mere exposure effect, meaning that the more you are exposed to a stimulus, in this case a word, the more positively you will perceive that stimulus. Since people have heard and can associate concussions with others they know they do not take it as seriously as when the more specific term of brain trauma is used.
Also athletes wishing to return to sports in our win-driven sports world are willing, in their ignorance, to put there bodies in harms way for the “win at all cost” mentality. New rules in safety such as helmets and rules prohibiting fighting are steps that are being taken in hockey to prevent further injuries however players and parents must be educated so that they know, fully, the risk they are putting themselves in.
St. Michael’s Hospital (2009, June 1). Minor League Hockey Players Unable To Identify Concussion Symptoms, Study Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527121051.htm
McMaster University (2010, January 18). Concussions not taken seriously enough, researcher finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100118001721.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine (2009, August 25). Strong Link Found Between Concussions And Brain Tissue Injury. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824115905.htm