Traumatic Brain Injuries in Sports

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in sports are often as a result of physical contact with another player or stationary object, and one of the most common sports that has a higher number of head injuries is the American football. The American football widely known as football in the United States is a game played by two teams of eleven players on each side on a rectangular field with goal posts at each end (Baugh & Kroshus, 2016). The link between football and TBI continues to be an area of concern not only for the players, but also for all stakeholders in the sport. Recent studies indicate that 110 deaths out of 111 of all National Football League (NFL) are caused by Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a chronic brain disorder connected to repetitive head trauma. Concussions in the NFL are caused by a bump, jolt or blow to a player after colliding with another player or hitting the ground awkwardly after jolting or a tackle from a fellow player. The sudden movement caused the brain to bounce around or twist inside the skull. The most common type of head injury in the NFL is the CTE which can lead to morbidity or mortality (Baugh & Kroshus, 2016). In 2017, there more than 280 reported cases of concussions in the NFL comprising of head injuries sustained in pre-season games and practices.

While there is no one specific treatment for CTE, it can be prevented considering that it is connected to repetitive concussions. Therefore, to avoid the occurrence of this head injury, NFL players are encouraged to:

a. Equip themselves with proper protective gear at all times even during practice or pre-season games. Considering that this is one of the most aggressive sports in the world today, the players should always make sure they put their health first by wearing the proper equipment at all times. Some of this proper equipment may include a helmet, shoulder pads, and groves. This is one of the most effective ways of protecting the players from any injury (Deakin & Hutchinson, 2017).

b. Discourage aggression in practice and on the field. Irrespective of the fact that this is a competition and everyone wants to win, it is the high time players, their coaches and all stakeholders come together and condemn excessive aggression in the wake of the rising number of concussions.

c. Another measure that can be put in place to protect the lives of the players is ensuring that the playing field is even and eliminating uneven spots. Additionally, the coaches should focus on incorporating neck-strengthening exercises in practice to provide that the players can safely handle a little bump or jolt (Deakin & Hutchinson, 2017).

Apart from the measures identified and described above, NFL players are still at the risk of becoming head injury victims as a result of bone-crunching hits and high flying tackles associated with football. The most ethical decisions moving forward are introducing new, and an improved helmet with a softer outer layer that crumples after the impact slows down the effect and protects the player (Montenigro, Bernick & Cantu, 2015). Additionally, studies indicate that footballers may reduce their risk of concussion by wearing better mouth guards and padding the posts for impact. Therefore, the lives of these footballers are more important than the competition and all stakeholders should come together and help protect them.  

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