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Do Now #56: Concussions in Sports

| January 8, 2013 | 6 Comments
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To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow

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Do Now

Should professional and amateur sports have stricter rules to prevent injuries like concussions? Why or why not? Please provide a suggestion that could tackle this issue.

Introduction

Concussions are not rare occurrences in contact sports, such as football. And this is not only for the pros, but for college, high school and even younger athletes. An article in the New York Times reports that half of all high school football players have had at least one concussion and 35 percent have had two or more. With about 1.3 million high school football players in the U.S., that adds up to a lot of concussions.

A concussion is an injury to the brain, caused by a traumatic blow to the head, or rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head, often from a hit. Concussions can be hard to diagnose because a doctor can’t “see” a concussion like an x-ray can show a broken bone. Doctors have had to rely on patients reporting symptoms, which include loss of consciousness, loss of memory, difficulty thinking or concentrating, dizziness, headaches and nausea. For most people, recovery from a concussion happens in 7-10 days, but, for others, some symptoms can last months or years. For youth, concussions may be especially damaging because their brains are still developing. And scientists believe that there are cumulative long-term effects from enduring multiple concussions.

New research is being done to help scientists learn about the impacts that cause concussions and how they affect the brain. Football players taking part in the studies, from pros to youth, have helmets or mouthguards that have been outfitted with sensors to measure the impacts of hits and tackles. The sensors measure both linear acceleration and angular acceleration (the rotation of the player’s head). Data is being collected on how many hits athletes encounter in a game and how hard those hits are. These data can help scientists make correlations between the force of the impact and the probability of a player getting a concussion. Findings may help doctors diagnose concussions and also provide information to aid in developing better helmets and protective gear. Scientists are also using new imaging tools to see and map abnormalities in the brain to better understand the damage that concussions can cause.

Resources

KQED QUEST Stanford Investigates the Hits that Cause Concussions – January 4, 2013
It’s no secret that concussions are endemic in American football at every level, from peewees to the pros, but little is known about the hits that cause them. Stanford University is searching for answers.


To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with@KQEDedspace and end it with #KQEDDoNow

For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.

We encourage students to tweet their personal opinions as well as support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can…and any contribution is most welcomed.


More Resources

KQED QUEST – Sidelined: Sports Concussions – September 6, 2011
Each year, millions of individuals experience brain injuries known as concussions. Athletes who play impact sports are especially at risk. Scientists explain the specific
physical causes of concussions and the development of new computer software and digital-imaging techniques that help measure and map the damage due to concussions.

PBS NewsHour – Young Football Players Are Taking Big-League Hits – April 5, 2012
Kids who play football make–and take–hits to the head just as hard as any high school, college or NFL player, according to a new study. While concussions are common in football among players of all ages, researchers are aiming to reduce those risks through stronger helmets and a new rating system.

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Category: 6 -12 Science, Do Now, Do Now: Science, Science

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About the Author ()

Andrea is the Science Education Manager for KQED. She joined KQED in 2007 to coordinate education and outreach for the public television series Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures. Between working on Ocean Adventures and joining the QUEST team, she developed the educational resources for the 4-hour documentary Saving the Bay. Andrea graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Environmental Science and earned her M.A. in Teaching and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the University of San Francisco. Before arriving at KQED, she taught, developed, and managed marine science and environmental education programs in Aspen, Catalina Island and the Bay Area.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTuBhG7xHug derek jeter

    Being addicted to sports is great to mind and body however we cannot avoid the risks that sports can also give us. People continue to love sports and at the same time cautious enough to play. But they did I also did enjoy every minute.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTuBhG7xHug derek jeter

    Being addicted to sports is great to mind and body however we cannot avoid the risks that sports can also give us. People continue to love sports and at the same time cautious enough to play. But they did I also did enjoy every minute.

  • Malik

    Concussions from a sport is a really serious situation. I believe that something really should be done about this. My proposal is that sports where concussions aren’t a rarity, there should be more protective gear that is lightweight but effective.

  • Malik

    Concussions from a sport is a really serious situation. I believe that something really should be done about this. My proposal is that sports where concussions aren’t a rarity, there should be more protective gear that is lightweight but effective.

  • Tan N

    I believe that they should have stricter rules to prevent injuries. The rules should so strict that the sports are not even physical no more. Physical sports are always entertaining to watch, but it does come with a risk of being injured. Its the nature of the game and players know that already. I enjoy watching the big football hits because its fun to watch. Even if they do decide to make the rules more strict, they should not be too strict where it takes away the physical aspect of the sport.

  • Tan N

    I believe that they should have stricter rules to prevent injuries. The rules should so strict that the sports are not even physical no more. Physical sports are always entertaining to watch, but it does come with a risk of being injured. Its the nature of the game and players know that already. I enjoy watching the big football hits because its fun to watch. Even if they do decide to make the rules more strict, they should not be too strict where it takes away the physical aspect of the sport.