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CONCUSSION: When should an athlete worry?

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After being hit in the head twice while playing soccer this past summer, nineteen year old Mercer student Megan Constance joined a large percentage of athletes who keep playing despite having concussions.

According to the article, ‘Concussion Center for Children and Adolescents’ found on the Saint Clare’s Health System website, “41 percent of athletes that suffered a concussion reported back to sports to soon.”

During the first game of the season, Constance suffered a severe concussion after being hit in the eye.

“I couldn’t see and honestly don’t remember much of what happened,” said Constance.

However, Constance shook off the blow and never reported the injury. She recalls, “it’s not a visible injury, so I didn’t take it to be serious.”

Two weeks later, after constant headaches and increased irritability, Constance was hit in the head again during a game. After being taken off the field, her teammates explained the previous injury to her coaches and she was promptly given a concussion test behind the bleachers, which she failed.

Despite the seriousness of a concussion, athletes often brush their head injury off to be nothing important. Many students do not see the severity of their injury, whereas some students, like Megan Constance, do not want to report an injury for fear it will take them out of the game.

Constance credits not speaking up about her injuries with, “I just wanted to keep playing.”

An athlete may see the blow to their head trivial compared to their will to play the game, but a concussion can interfere with the brains ability to function normally.

According to the AANS article ‘Sports-Related Head Injury,’ “a concussion results from shaking the brain within the skull and, if severe can cause shearing injuries to nerve fibers and neurons.”

In a pamphlet created by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it is stressed that to recognize an injury there must be “a forceful blow to the head…and any change in the student athlete’s behavior, thinking or physical functioning.”

The symptoms of a concussion include moving clumsily, answering questions slowly, appearing dazed, headaches, nausea or vomiting.

Despite the symptoms of a concussion often being overlooked, they are frequent among athletes. In the article, ‘Sports-Related Head Injury’ found on the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) website, it’s reported that “an estimated 446,788 sports-related head injuries (were) treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2009.”

The NCAA pamphlet stresses that when it comes to concussions, “It’s better to miss one game than the whole season. When in doubt, get checked out.”

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