Put yourself in this situation: You’re playing a sport with your friends. As you’re playing, you go for a dive to catch the ball. CLACK! You collide head-on with another player. Only problem is, you don’t get up directly after the collision. Instead you’re dazed out momentarily and it takes you a few minutes to regain your state of mind. You’re okay, but you don’t remember the collision.
Lucky for you, this was only a minor concussion, one of many possible brain injuries.
Brain injuries are dangerous because they cause the brain to move around and strike the inside of the skull. Problems that can occur from head injuries include memory loss, trauma and sometimes even death in more severe cases. But a major issue surrounding brain injuries is the fact that they’re happening more frequently and can lead to life threatening injuries and death.
Even if you’re a teenager.
High rates of concussions have been reported among teens in high school. In September, a high school football star came to an early death after reportedly falling and leaving in the middle of a football game with a “horrible” migraine.
Texas-West Orange-Stark football player Reggie Garrett died in the middle of the second quarter. After his second touchdown of the game, he walked off the field. He ended up being the victim of what was believed to be a seizure and then being pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
There have been many NFL players who have suffered concussions while playing their sport. Some of them have injuries so severe they’ve been taken out of games for quarters, even for the rest of the game.
It’s been happening so often the NFL has been forced to take action by serving fines to players who tackle improperly.
But this isn’t the only situation where head injuries have been surfacing. Even within our school gym walls, students aren’t safe from head injuries. It’s hard to protect yourself when you’re having fun in a gym class and make an unexpected turn into a wall or suffer a major fall, or even collide with another student. You may get up looking like you don’t have a scratch on you, but is that really the case with your brain?
Injuries to the head can cause major issues later years. Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 1.7 million people in the U.S. seek medical attention for brain injuries. Almost half a million of those injuries occur among kids up to age 14. Men have a higher risk of brain injury than females.
Most aren’t too severe, but the long-term effects of these injuries can cause harmful damage to your brain. Diseases like Parkinson’s can cause your brain to function abnormally. Loss of memory is also commonly associated with people who have been victims of head injuries when they were young. Even worse is the risk of a heart attack or stroke, which in many cases can be serious, even potentially fatal.
Sometimes injuries are inevitable. But you can take precautions to protect yourself in any way that you can such as these:
u Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
u Make sure you’re wearing all the necessary equipment you may need to play full contact sports.
u Be sure not to over exert yourself — this can protect you from surprising circumstances.
u Always be aware that even the most safety conscious and talented players get hurt sometimes. Never believe that because sports are a leisure activity, you can’t get hurt.
u If you find yourself in a head injury situation or collision, take a break from whatever your doing for a decent amount of time. If serious, seek medical attention immediately.
u No one can predict the future. Sometimes you’re going to get hurt, and some people are just more fortunate than others. Head injuries don’t discriminate. They can happen to anyone. The best way to protect you from these severe injuries is to play it safe.
Whether you’re playing a sport, or doing something simple, PLAY IT SAFE! It may seem silly at moments in time, but it’ll only be beneficial, both to your brain and you during your old age.
Michael Fenner is a senior at Schenectady High School