Today in the Athletic community and sports medicine the major topic of discussion revolves around concussions. The Mayo Clinic describes a concussion as a traumatic brain injury that is caused by a hard blow or jolt to your head, neck, or upper body causing your brain to forcefully slide back and forth against the inner walls of your skull. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the brain is cushioned by cerebrospinal fluid within our skulls, however when the brain comes in contact with the inner side of the skull potential for tearing of blood vessels, pulling of nerve fibers and bruising of the brain substance arises.
In an interview with Neuropsychologist Christian Ambler, he mentions how research done in the United States reviled the number of annual incidence of sport related concussions is estimated to be around 300,000. Concussion awareness has become more prominent in the recent years as more research and development has been performed. Due to this athletes are now required to take an ImPACT test before they are able to participate in sports. The safety of athletes has also rose dramatically in the last few years. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons released a list of twenty sports and recreational activities that resulted in the highest estimated number of head injuries in US hospitals during 2009.
Baseball and Softball: 38,394
Water Sports (Diving, Scuba Diving, Surfing, Swimming, Water Polo, Water Skiing, Water Tubing): 28,716
Powered Recreational Vehicles (ATVs, Dune Buggies, Go-Carts, Mini bikes, Off-road): 26,606
Fitness/Exercise/Health Club: 18,012
Winter Sports (Skiing, Sledding, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling): 16,948
Horseback Riding: 14,466
Other Ball Sports and Balls, Unspecified: 6,883
Roller and Inline Skating: 3,320
Ice Skating: 4,608
Concussions are known for tampering with memory. Memory problems usually occur when the injury is to the temporal lope of the brain. While reading an article on www.mentalhealth.va.gov, I found that the temporal lobe is the section of the brain that is most likely to become bruised resulting from a head injury. Showing why problems with memory occur as the result of a concussion. They compared this bruising to a physical bruise by saying “like a black and blue mark on your arm or leg, these bruises will recover with time.”
People who have been diagnosed with a concussion experience amnesia, although at different levels of severity. As we learned in class, amnesia can be defined as the distinction between explicit and implicit memory. There are three types of amnesia, first is post traumatic amnesia which means there is a space from when the initial injury occurred to the time the person is able to make continuous memories where the person is unable to recall what happened. This can last from several minutes to days. The next type is retrograde amnesia where the person is unable to remember events before the injury. The last type is called anterograde amnesia where the person is unable to remember new information. This form of amnesia seems to be limited to explicit memory while leaving implicit memory unaffected. If a patient suffers from retrograde amnesia after a concussion they are unable to access old long-term memories and if they suffer from anterograde amnesia they are unable to remember experiences after the injury.
As an athlete, I grew up playing softball until the last couple months when I started to play rugby. I never believed that concussions were that serious rather I thought they were just like any other bump or soreness I was feeling. I am glad that with time more research is being done to improve the safety of athletes and their brains on the field.
The following links are where I gathered my information.