Tomorrow is CTE Awareness Day.
For those of you who don’t know, CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. CTE is produced by repetitive brain injury caused by concussive and subconcussive hits to the head. There seem to be some myths and misconceptions surrounding CTE. Let’s take a few moments to dispel three common myths.
Only professional football players suffer from CTE.
While football arguably gets the most press on the matter, players of other sports are also at risk. CTE has been found in boxing, hockey, soccer, and wrestling, to name a few. Players of any contact sport are at risk.
Professional and college athletes are not the only ones at risk. Children and young adults have also been found to have CTE. Joseph Chernach committed suicide at the tender age of 25, having only played youth and high school football.
CTE has been found in children as young as 17.
Wearing a helmet protects a player from CTE.
Helmets have been worn for years in the NFL. Obviously, it’s not particularly effective.
The brain is suspended inside the skull in cerebral spinal fluid (CFS). This fluid provides nutrients and cushioning to the brain. During a blow to the head, the brain bounces around inside the skull, impacting the bone in some cases. Even when the brain does not impact the skull, the motion can cause tearing of blood vessels and tissues. The helmet does little to prevent either of these injuries.
Some experts believe that helmets make the game more dangerous because they create a false sense of security. That sense of security results in athletes taking bigger risks on the field. Can you imagine a player leading with his head when not wearing a helmet? Me, neither.
Young players can return to play sooner than older athletes.
The reverse is actually true. Because young brains are still developing and therefore require a longer healing period, experts suggest a more conservative approach to returning to play.
In post-concussion syndrome, recovery is delayed and symptoms persist for long than the anticipated 7-10 days. In fact, studies have found that symptoms can last up to a year.
Second impact syndrome occurs when a second traumatic brain injury occurs before the first injury has had sufficient time to heal. Most cases occur in young athletes. The effect of these compound injuries is that the brain loses the ability to regulate intracranial pressure, resulting in swelling. While rare, the condition is usually fatal.
CTE, post-concussion syndrome, and second impact syndrome are serious, debilitating, and sometimes fatal. The risk of suffering from one of these conditions can’t be eliminated but they can be reduced.
Knowledge is power. #SaveYourBrain
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