Concussions have been a common injury in sports for many years. But it wasn’t until recently that we have seen the life long effects of these injuries.
The 2015 film “Concussion” told the story of National Football League (NFL) players experiencing long-term effects from excessive blows to the head during their time in the NFL.
All of the health concerns brought to light recently involving concussions have definitely changed the way certain sports are being played and practiced.
Teams all over the nation are changing the way they practice and play to try and limit the amount of head to head contact.
The Pacific University football team has changed the way they practice to try and preserve the health of their players.
“We rarely go full contact in practice, it’s always tag off or wrap up,” wide receiver coach, and former Pacific quarterback P.J. Minaya said. “We don’t do any full live periods during season practices. We try to use bags to limit head to head contact and teach heads up tackling during fall camp.”
It is not uncommon for players to play through an injury. When it comes to concussions however, it isn’t wise to try and play through the pain due to the long-term effects.
If there is any speculation that a player may have a concussion, they will most likely be pulled and put through the concussion protocol.
“If you get hit hard or just feel weird or fuzzy than the trainers will do their protocol,” coach Minaya said. “If there’s any doubt that you might have a concussion, you will probably be pulled from the game.”
This is contrary to how concussions were treated when coach Minaya played for the Boxers in the 2010-13 seasons.
“Now if you get a headache, you have to get checked out,” coach Minaya said. “When I was playing, if you got a headache it wasn’t really a big deal. Nowadays if there is any slight thought that you might have a concussion you have to get checked out.”
After a player receives a concussion he is put through the seven day protocol. After five days of being symptom free players can start running around at practice again. After six days they can wear helmets in practice. On the seventh day they are allowed to wear full pads but are limited in contact. Once they’ve gone through the seven day protocol and passed the ImPACT Test, they will be cleared to play.
One player who recently had to go through the concussion protocol was Pacific’s leading receiver sophomore Kobe Williams. Williams received a concussion in the first game of the season against Adrian College but was able to play in the game the following week after going through the protocol.
“Thankfully our first game was on a Friday instead of a Saturday,” Williams said. “Or else I wouldn’t have been able to play in the next game.”
Injuries are a part of all sports and with all of the research that has been done on concussions, we are better able to diagnose and help prevent them.
Many may argue whether or not it is worth it in the long run, but as long as we can learn and teach the proper technique in sports, concussions can be prevented.