Sports and brain injury awareness

Jacqueline Gutierrez, Digital Editor

From preexisting medical conditions to sports injuries, many people suffer brain injuries and they are not aware of the signs and symptoms.

A brain injury can be considered anything for a light bump on the head to a whack on the head and it ranges from mild to severe depending on how the victim feels, according to the CDC website.

Many Americans suffer from some sort of brain injury, but because many people are not educated on what a brain injury is, and what all of the symptoms are, they do not seek the medical attention that they need.

“Millions of Americans have had the symptoms of Mild TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury] but were left wanting, having no pathological evidence that could start the treatment plan along a scientifically proven path,” according to a press release from the National Brain Injury Institute.

Among the millions of Americans that do not recognize the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, a portion of them are athletes.

Roughly 42% of adults who experience sports related mild TBIs do not seek medical attention and many more females seek medical attention after a mild TBI, according to the University of Connecticut.

Football is not only a heavy contact sport, but it is also expected that more football players receive minor to mild TBIs than any sport.

“We [the coaches and football players] talk a lot about not leading with the head in tackles. And fundamentally it’s not sound, because it gets their weight going too far forward,” Carl Dean, the offensive coordinator for the BC football team, said.

Even though many students or athletes may not be educated on TBI, symptoms it is important that the coaching staff is educated on the symptoms of a TBI.

“As coaches we are required to go through a concussion training. They give us different signs and symptoms to look for, and questions to ask, and we are required to report anything to our training staff,” Dean said.

And once a brain injury is identified it is important that the victim follows the protocol directed toward them.

“Until they [athletes who are suffering a TBI] are cleared by the trainers and the team doctors they are not allowed to be in any physical contact until they go through our concussion protocol,” Dean said.

In all sports there is a TBI risk factor and the one thing that they have in common is the protocol that is taken to help the athlete recover.

“[When a student is brought in with a concussion] we do an assessment on them, there are different assessment tools out there, and different companies use different tools. We use a SCAT5 [Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 5], the doctor we work with is comfortable with the SCAT5,” BC assistant athletic trainer, Tricia Gay, said.

Many different factors go into determining the severity of a brain injury and the factors include: balance, age, how the concussion was received, number of concussions, memory, and duration of the brain injury, according to Gay.

“There’s lots of relative data that we [the athletic trainers] have to compile to make that assessment, it’s not just one or two things. If that someone wasn’t feeling good and they might have taken a mild knock on the head, and they didn’t eat, do they have a concussion or low blood sugar,” Gay said.