Rookie wide receiver Ryan Swope’s NFL career ended prematurely when he retired from the league – just three months after being drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Although it was devastating for him to end his career, he realized that concussions are linked with permanent brain damage and sudden death.
A concussion occurs when a blow to the head causes damage to the brain. Often there will be bruising to the brain, swelling inside or outside the skull, and headaches. Some people may lose consciousness while others may feel dizzy, nauseated, and disoriented.
Other symptoms may include:
- Blurry vision
- Balance problems
- Mood swings
- Weakness, numbness, or lack of coordination.
- Slurred speech.
- Extreme drowsiness
- Difficulty recognizing faces or places
- Confusion, restlessness, or agitation.
The NFL, NCAA, and thousands of coaches across the country must make difficult decisions about who can play safely and who should sit out the next game.
Most healthy athletes want to return to the field and finish playing the game after a head injury. However, the highest risk of sudden death occurs in the first 48 hours and continues for up to 1 week. Athletes that sustain multiple head injuries in a short period of time have the highest risk of complications.
Once an athlete suffers a head injury, the coach, sports trainer, and a qualified doctor must examine the patient right away. The ER or urgent care doctor may order a CT scan to look for bleeding in the brain or skull fractures.
Most doctors recommend at least 7 days of rest and avoiding any physical contact with other players. After that time, the athlete must be re-evaluated before returning to practice and playing sports.
Recognizing the permanent brain damage that occurs from sports injuries is important to protect athletes. Talk with your doctor and coaches if you have additional questions.
Prepared by Parmida
Reviewed by Muhammad Emran, MD