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Head Trauma in Professional Football Players: Implications for the Brain, the Game, and Society

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Sports related concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), have recently increased in prevalence, and thus gained a great deal of recognition from the public and the media. While the

Sports related concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), have recently increased in prevalence, and thus gained a great deal of recognition from the public and the media. While the acute symptoms associated with concussions are well known, which include headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and fatigue, recent research has indicated that there can be severe chronic consequences of multiple conditions. Most notably, a disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has been linked to multiple mTBIs, which produces symptoms similar to Alzheimer's disease and dementia, in addition to personality changes, increased suicidality, and in some cases death. This knowledge has led the NFL to take steps to protect their players, and increase both the understanding and awareness of the problems associated with multiple concussions. This comes with many problems, however, as players and fans alike are quick to resist any type of change to the rules or policies present in football, in fear that it may damage the integrity of the game. The NFL is thus forced into a difficult position, and must balance public opinion and player safety. There are things that can be done, however, that do not threaten the game itself, such as investing in concussion research and safety equipment design that will more effectively protect the brain from concussions.

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  • 2013-05