Concussions and their consequences

Jackson Gallant
By Jackson Gallant December 8, 2023 13:27

Concussions and their consequences

A study done by Dr. Mark Hesig about team sports with the most concussions

Whether you play sports as a professional, an amateur or just for fun with some friends, injury is always a risk.  

Doing any kind of physical activity comes with the chance of getting hurt, but playing an organized sport is one of the easiest ways. Constantly training your body to be in top shape and going into an environment where you and your opponents are doing everything possible to win can be dangerous.  

In a setting where you are always moving your body, sometimes in unconventional ways, any misstep can cause harm. One of the more common sports-related injuries is a concussion. A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury that can occur in a few different ways. Many assume concussions are always caused by a hit to the head, but that is not the case.  

“The trauma doesn’t necessarily have to be to the head, it can be to the body,” said athletic therapist Derek Debono. “You can also experience a concussion by simply falling onto the ground.”  

Concussions are the most common injury in physical sports. In a 2019 study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the three sports with the highest concussion rate in high school sports were football, lacrosse and ice hockey.  

A table breaking down the number of concussions received in high school sports by The American Academy of Pediatrics.

All of these sports involve fast-paced contact with other people, making them the most susceptible to a traumatic head injury. Although direct contact is the more common way of suffering an injury, concussions can also be self-inflicted. 

“My first one was by tripping off of the face off and my second one happened because of an open ice collision,” said Southwest Wildcats U22 player Angelina Nawalany.   

Nawalany suffered two hockey-related concussions in two years. Outside of the extreme headache, light and sound sensitivity she suffered from, these injuries caused stress in other aspects of her life.  

“Recovery was super hard for me because I felt like I was letting my teammates down by not skating,” said Angelina. “The recovery weeks also caused me a lot of stress because I was worried about the amount of school I had to miss.”  

Since concussions commonly cause sensitivity to light and sound, environments that are full of light and sound such as school are off the table for a couple of weeks. Often, so is any form of technological education or entertainment.  

“What I would do is recommend to them that they stay away from television, stay away from their computer, their phone, stay away from any loud noise, not listen to music,” said Debono.  

Since the brain is the focal point for all of your bodily and mental functions, getting a brain injury will cause it to not send proper signals to certain parts of the body. The part of your brain responsible for processing visual information is called the thalamus. When you suffer a concussion, the blood vessels that feed oxygen to the thalamus can become damaged, depriving that part of the brain of the oxygen it needs to properly function, making it unable to process the amount of visual information it would be able to otherwise.  

The concussion process can be stressful for everyone involved, even if they are not physically affected.  

“My heart immediately went into overdrive,” said Silvana Nawalany, Angelina’s mother. “I wanted to run to her but I also knew better and I waited.”  

The more concussions you suffer, the worse they are going to be, so Angelina’s parents were a little nervous to put her back into hockey.  

“The concussions are scary, and I am worried about her long-term health,” said Silvana.  

Despite this, Angelina is right back into the swing of things, with a little bit of a new playing strategy.  

“One thing I did change was bending my knees more to try and make it harder to be knocked over,” said Angelina.  

With concussions being one of the more common injuries in sports, they are hard to completely avoid. They seem minor on the surface but as they stack up, they can become increasingly dangerous, so it is extremely important to recognize, treat and adapt.  


Jackson Gallant
By Jackson Gallant December 8, 2023 13:27

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