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RUNNING HEAD… PREVENTING CONCUSSIONS
Josh Kane Changing Protocols in Modern Sports to Prevent Concussions COMM 202: Writing for Communication Professor Leanne Pupchek
KANE Thesis: Advances in concussion awareness and enacting new head safety policies will lead to better health among professional and collegiate athletes. INTRO According to Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia (2010) a concussion is “a stunning, damaging, or shattering effect from a hard blow”. Concussions result when the head hits an object or a moving object strikes the head. A concussion can result from falls, sports activities, and car accidents. A concussion is a brain injury that may result in a bad headache, altered levels of alertness, or unconsciousness. A concussion will “temporarily interfere with the way your brain works, and it can affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance, coordination, and sleep patterns.” On September 13th, 2010 during lacrosse practice I suffered an injury that would forever change my perspective on topic of concussions. During a routine drill, I went for the hit, dropping my head, which was greeted, by another’s chest going full speed. For the next five months, I was out of lacrosse. During this time, I constantly experienced concussion ,symptoms. I previously have heard of head injuries such as concussions but never fully understood their effects. Those who have never experienced such an ,injury, do not fully understand its damages and the feeling of its symptoms. I was now given a first hand look, of the injury which is currently experiencing a recent spike in media attention due to recent studies stating it’s long term effects and athletes. People can suffer a concussion without realizing it. They can suffer symptoms such as: “confusion, headache, memory loss, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, drowsiness, feeling in a fog, and blurred vision” (Medline 2010). Until recently, the seriousness of Concussions has been overlooked in collegiate and professional sports. NCAA Division I programs and professional sports organizations across the nation are taking a more guarded approach then previously, in dealing with head injuries. Programs are using more caution and have upgraded equipment to ensure player safety. According to Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia (2010) a concussion a stunning, damaging, or shattering effect from a hard blow. Concussions result when the head hits an object or a moving object strikes the head. A concussion can result from falls, sports activities, and car accidents. A concussion is a brain injury that may result in a bad headache, altered levels of alertness, or unconsciousness. A concussion will “temporarily interfere with the way your brain works, and it can affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance, coordination, and sleep patterns.” People can suffer a concussion without realizing it. They can suffer symptoms such as: confusion, headache, memory loss, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, drowsiness, feeling in a fog, and blurred vision. recently the seriousness of Concussions has been overlooked in collegiate and professional sports. NCAA Division I programs across the nation are taking a more guarded approach dealing with head injuriesPrograms are using more caution and have upgraded equipment to ensure player safety more than what?] . The procedural changes came in line with the recent spike in media attention regarding head injuries. [What 2
KANE media attention? Explain and describe.] LITERATURE REVIEW Medical personnel are not always present at every athletics contest; coaches are often the first in conduct to assess sport-related concussions. Knowledge of sport-related concussion for all individuals who supervise athletes is essential. A special interested group in Southeastern Virginia examined the knowledge from coaches on concussions. Knowledge of prevention, management, and recognition were tested. After study, “coaches demonstrated a moderate knowledge” (Broglio, 2008). Coaches scored higher in recognition but lower in section of prevention and management. Study also concluded increased knowledge was result of attending workshops, or a class on the past history of concussions. To properly implement a successful concussion protocols, knowledge was to be increased by those whom are first on the scene. Coaches were to attend workshops or classes so they could be properly prepared with dealing with concussions.
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METHODOLOGY To prevent and treat future injury, organizations are taking similar approaches in implementing policies and protocols. The NCAA, NFL, and NHL are our country’s top sports organizations. How these organizations chose to address, is based on recent studies that state no return to play. Upon analyzing new policies, across all sports organizations athletes are held out until further medical examining. Similarities in policies and protocols show a new consensus for addressing the changing field of concussions and head injuries. OBSERVATIONS
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In response to the recent spike in media attention regarding heading injuries, the NCAA and professional sports organizations are now changing their stance. Recently enacted new policies that will help prevent head injuries. These new policies also raised awareness that concussions are a serious injury, that to prevent, you must, first understand. In December of 2009, the NFL publicly transformed their approach to concussion and it’s research. Not only did the NFL announced they would support research they also publicly for the first time conceded publicly for the first time that concussions can have lasting consequences. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello stated “It’s quite obvious from the medical research that’s been done that concussion can lead to long-term problems (Schwarz, 2009)”. The NFL recent change of stance acknowledged the league could no longer defend a position that was contradicted by science.
KANE In 2010, the NFL began to crack down on helmet-to-helmet hits in an attempt to reduce the amount of concussions suffered by players. The league began to issue large fines, and suspensions to players who were considered to commit illegal hits. On April 29, 2010 the NCAA sent a memorandum to Athletic Trainers calling attention to concussion management plans. The memorandum included a requirement for institutions to have concussion plans on file and demanded that players be “removed immediately if they showed concussion symptoms”. It also required student-athletes to sign a statement accepting responsibility to report their injuries and illnesses to medical staffs. According to the memorandum, "The policy came from ongoing review of research data and discussions with the medical community” ("concussion in sports," 2011) The National Basketball Association currently has no league wide policy on concussions. Although many teams have their own policies set for treating such injury. Last month (March 2011), the NBA announced that its Team Physicians Society (TPS) was working with a neurologist to exams possible concussion treatment policies. The discussions included a lengthy medical meeting during the All-Star break in February. According to the Associated Press, there has been an average of nine players per season who missed playing time due to concussions since 2006. Until 2011, there was no set policy for treating concussions in the MLB, but union officials had been studying the issue in detail for years. A new set of protocols was announced in March 2011. The new protocols were set to begin on Opening Day, March 31st. The new policy and protocols includes the creation of a seven-day disabled list for players with concussions, in addition to the previous 15-day disabled list. The new policy also mandates baseline neurological testing for players joining a new club, as well as every player during Spring Training (Bell, 2011). Umpires are also included along with players in the new protocol. Each club must be required to designate a Mild Traumatic Injury specialist in its city to evaluate players and umpires. The NHL has long placed an emphasis on concussion awareness. It is considered the highest-contact sport in the country. The NHL and NHL player’s association have created a joint concussion-working group that continually examines the issues. The working group includes managers and owners whom look through studies and statistics on concussion periodically. In 2009, the NHL patterned with the National Academy of Neuropsychology to create educational video that showed the effects of concussions on athletes, in particular hockey players, to show young players, coaches, teachers and parents. In 2011, at the NHL general manager meetings, a new protocol was created for dealing with concussions. Owners decided to look into ways to slow down the game and decrease the number of accidental concussions that happen during play. During the meetings, a new rule was created that required players to be examined by a doctor in the locker room after showing concussion symptoms. In the past, players had only to be examined by a trainer on the bench. The NCAA, NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL each acted with new similar policies and protocols. Their similarities show there is common understanding on how to properly prevent head injuries and how this prevention will raise awareness of head injury.
KANE Professional sport organizations changed the way they deal with concussions and attempting to prevent injury and to raise awareness in order to prevent such injuries. The video games that portray these organizations are following suit. EA sports announced their true-to-life newest edition of “Madden NFL 2012” would for the first time include a concussion-teaching tool. The new feature will mirror the NFL’s stronger “return-to-play” policy that was installed last season. In the game, when the player is sidelined the announcers will explain why the player is no longer able to compete, and then warn about the dangers of head injuries. The game will also no longer include helmet-to-helmet tackles, or head first tackles. Such techniques are now illegal in the NFL in order to try and prevent head injuries. The importance of such developments cannot be overstated. Last year’s version of Madden, sold over 5.5 million copies (Gregory, 2011). The NFL and health experts have done plenty of public safety announcements and concussion clinics, but never has the NFL reached out to the millions of fans who purchased the true-to-life game annually. Madden giving such recognition, will allow kids of all ages to learn about concussions, their effects, and how to prevent such injury. State legislatures, along with professional and collegiate sports organizations are enacting new policies to raise awareness and prevent future head injuries from occurring. Recently in Ohio, state legislature passed a concussion awareness bill. The new awareness bill requires; Requires a parent or guardian to sign an information sheet stating that they have reviewed the information provided regarding brain injuries as prepared by the Dept. of Health before that student athlete can participate in practice. Requires a coach or organization official to remove a student from play immediately if suspected of having a brain injury. A physician or athletic trainer must clear a student athlete who is removed from play due to a suspected brain injury before returning to play. Defines a youth sports organization and requires them to follow standards for removing an athlete suspected of having a head injury. The legislation defines a youth sports organization as public or nonpublic entity that organizes an athletic activity in which the athletes are age nineteen or younger and are required to pay a fee to participate in the athletic activity or whose cost to participate is sponsored by a business or nonprofit (Robins, 2011).
Ohio is not the first state to pass such legislation, nine states since 2006 have already passed similar legislation. The states with youth concussion legislation are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency departments treat an estimated 135,000 sports and recreation related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children ages 5 to 18 every year (Robins, 201) According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency departments treat an estimated 135,000 sports and recreation related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children ages 5 to 18 every year 5
KANE (Robins, 2011). ANALYSIS The new protocols and policies, take away the right to return to play from the players. Before, players could simply say they were fine and re-enter the competition. Leagues are also slowing down their games, and enacting harsher penalties for such hits that lead to concussions and head injury. There is a new focus to educate the coaches and the youth. The youth are being educated through video games. Never before has such media reached out in the hopes of being educating the youth on sports related injuries. CONCLUSION: Advancements in medicine today are continuous. With these advancements comes a better understanding of the human body and possible injury. These advancements create a raised awareness, which lead to more efficient means of preventing such injuries. Media today, is quick to inform us of malfunctions in society. As the head injury phoneme caught the media’s attention, it highlighted that our sports organization change their policies to help prevent such injury. The sports organizations adapted with medical advancements and accepted responsibility of helping with prevention and raising awareness. Until recently there was not an appropriate level of seriousness concerning head injuries. Head injuries in sports are now receiving some much-needed attention. New policies and protocols have proven to help prevent injury while informing the public of a head injury. What is it? What are its affects? Increased means of prevention will benefit the health of those who participate in contact sports.
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Broglio, S.P. (2008). Special interest group #1: strategies for implementing a successful concussion protocol. Journal of Athletic Training Association, Concussion. (2010). Medline plus medical encyclopedia. Retrieved April 6, 2011, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000799.html Concussion in sports. (2011). Retrieved from www.ncaa.org Wennberg, R.A, & Tator, C.H. (2007). National hockey league reported concussions, 1986-87 to 2001-02. The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, 30(3), Retrieved from http://cjns.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,6,22; journal,50,78;linkingpublicationresults,1:300307,1
Schwarz, Alan. (2009, December 20). NFL acknowledges long-term concussion effects. New York Times, Bell, Stephania. (2011, April 1). Analyzing MLB's concussion policy. ESPN: The Magazine, Retrieved from http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/baseball/flb/story?id=6280590
Gregory, Sean. (2011, April 4). Madden 12: concussion teaching tool. Retrieved from http://techland.time.com/2011/04/04/madden-12-a-concussion-teaching-tool/ Robins, Monica. (2011, March 9). Concussion awareness bill introduced in Ohio. Retrieved from http://www.wkyc.com/news/article/179623/7/Concussion-awareness-billintroduced-in-Ohio
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