Guest post by Dean Dowd
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can occur anywhere, but perhaps no place they occur has captured the public’s attention in the past year like the football field. From National Football League arenas to high school football gridirons, players are suffering concussions with frightening regularity.
General Electric, one of the world’s largest companies, is partnering with the NFL on a $60 million project to develop new and improved concussion-detecting imaging technology. This technology will be used to study not only football players, but also others that have high rates of head injuries, such as soldiers.
The more we know about head injuries, the better prepared we are to prevent them and treat them effectively when they occur.
Head Injuries: A Part of Football?
In the past year, serious head injuries sustained on the football field have come under scrutiny for their effects off the field.
More than 3,350 former players are suing the NFL because they say the organization did not take brain injuries seriously and treated concussions as just a part of the game. Doctors pointed to hit-induced brain damage after Pro Bowler Junior Seau committed suicide in May 2012, and questions were even raised about the role head injuries might have played in a December murder-suicide carried out by an NFL linebacker.
The Brain Injury Law Center brings you this infographic chock-full of statistics about concussions on the football field.
A football player need not even suffer a concussion to experience long-term brain damage, according to a recent study.
All this talk has prompted football officials to begin using helmet sensors in an attempt to understand how brain injuries occur. The military is doing the same thing. The partnership announced between General Electric and the NFL will develop imaging equipment to better care for people who suffer head injuries, whether football players or not.
It is the NFL’s biggest private partnership to date, and its price tag speaks to how seriously the league is taking the issue—even if it didn’t for many years.
Concussions Are No Minor Injury
Three-quarters of the roughly 1.7 million head injuries sustained by Americans each year are concussions. Studies are increasingly showing that their effects can be long-lasting, even if the incident that causes the concussion is unremarkable.
In a recent CNN story, one of the network’s own editors documented her difficult recovery from a concussion sustained in a car accident — an accident she walked away from seemingly unharmed. She had thought, as many people do, that a concussion only occurs when someone is knocked unconscious.
Despite walking away from the car crash, everyday tasks like reading and writing became a challenge. A complete recovery is unlikely.
Many, many Americans – including some of those active with TryMunity – have similar stories to tell. If this has happened to you, you know the difficulties. If it hasn’t, be sure you know the signs of a concussion.
The Brain Injury Law Center is based in Virginia. We provide legal representation to people who have suffered TBIs and do our part on our blog to educate the public about head injuries. On the prevention front, we have offered free bicycle helmets to at-need children in our community to help keep them safe.
We support the work TryMunity is doing to provide a network of support for head injury victims. If you haven’t already, be sure to visit TryMunity’s site and join their community if a brain injury has affected you, a friend or a loved one.