Vulnerable Window in Concussions

Thomas Hum-Hyder

Last week, Dr. John DiFiori, the head physician of the University of California at Los Angeles’s Bruins football team came to Trinity to speak of his work with athletes with concussions and best to approach the idea of return to play. What was most striking about Dr. DiFiori’s talk was the apparent discontinuity between the rules regarding when players are to be taken out of a game and what actually happens. Research out of his lab and colleagues at UCLA seem to suggest that return to play is most acceptable after a nine-day period, as it seems as though the risk of sustaining another concussion would be reduced. However, in a video that Dr. DiFiori showed, it showed a quarterback sustaining repeated blows to the head throughout the second half of play after having a hard impact in the first quarter, which left him clearly dazed. While official policies seem to indicate that coaches are required to take players out of games after there is a blow to the head that looks as though it could result in a concussion, it is clear that these general guidelines tend to not occur, due to pressures from higher ups. When the incidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in on the rise, most prevalently in individuals who sustained many blows to the head during playing careers, it is incredibly worrying that coaches and sports organizations tend to prefer a potential win over a lifetime of degenerative brain damage.

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