The NFL lockout is done! The SEASON HAS STARTED! As a fan, I am happy to have football again. As a doctor, I feel for the sports docs of every team…time for another season of sports injuries!
One injury in particular is Sports Concussions.
I had a short conversation with former Giants, Jessie Armstead, about football injuries like ACL injuries, shoulder injuries and concussions with at a recent fundraiser for the Villa Victoria Catholic School Yardley Pennsylvania. Many of the injuries can end the career of an NFL player.
Left to right: Dr. Matthias Wiederholz, Former Giants: Jessie Armstead and Antonio Pierce; Dr. Joseph Jimenez, Dr. Philip Jimenez, Former Dallas Cowboy: Jimmy Jones ; (Front) Philly Fanatic
A new Loyola University Health System study posted July 2011 (1) showed that ” Retired NFL football players are at higher risk for mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease”. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) means that there are problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that is more than what is expected with your age. The study showed that among the 513 retired football players interviewed, 35 % were found to have MCI.
The reason is believed to be from repetitive head trauma
Studies suggest on collegiate athletes in Division I football (2) can experience up to 20 to 30 g-forces or more with each hit and can get hit on average 1,000 times in a season. NFL players are bigger, stronger and faster which means impacts and tackles could generate even more force and/or damage with each hit!
A radical idea that some retired football athletes proposed to cut down on concussions is to get rid of the HELMETS! The helmets seem to encourage more vicious hits. In other words, the players think the helmets and padding make them almost invincible, giving them the license to hit harder and with more force! If players start playing without helmets, then the opponents would “go easier” on each tackle and there’s less chance for a concussion. Interesting logic, but I don’t think it will ever fly.
What do you think?
On our next blog article, we will show some cutting edge tools we are using to diagnose concussions…STAY TUNED
1)Editors of Science Daily. Retired NFL players at higher risk for mild cognitive impairment: Condition can be precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. ScienceDaily. Loyola University Health System (2011, July 18). Retrieved August 7, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2011/07/110718085320.htm
2) Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Jason P. Mihalik. Biomechanics of Sport Concussion: Quest for the Elusive Injury Threshold: In-helmet Accelerometer Research Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2011;39(1):4-11.