effects of concussions when playing football


History of National Football League (NFL) is associated by steady growth in concussion cases among players. The combative nature of the sport has been noted as major cause of brain-related problems from head blows. In fact, concussion is a series of pathophysiological activities that interfere with the brain. In most cases a trauma in the brain induce such complex process. The identifiable major causes are direct head blow or indirect bodily blow. The neurological effects of concussion lead to brain malfunction in the short-run and in the long-run (Gengenbach and Thomas 312). Popularity of American football versus the emerging statistics on concussion is a complex issue that has attracted significant debate among scholars, physicians, sports personalities and members of the public. However, the underlying reality is that concussion has short term and long term effects.


In the wake of observed upsurge in brain related complications among active and retired NFL players, extensive research has been ongoing to curb concussions. High school players show high likelihood of developing symptoms by the time of admission to college. At the same time, collegiate and professional level players are vulnerable to brain impairment for repeated concussions. The cause-effect relationship between Football participation and vulnerability to concussion is indisputable. However, there is significant research evidence indicating that not all concussions may lead to unconsciousness or brain impairment. In fact, the severity and frequency of such blows to the head or body explain the fate of the player. The overriding fact is that a player may not necessarily show symptoms in the short-term but suffer from progressive accumulation of the effects in the long-term.


The positioning of the brain within the skull and the network of blood vessels, and nerves must remain undisturbed to some limit. However, considering the head-on collision and blows on the body while Football game is underway, the head is always a risky target. It is worth to point out that the symptoms of concussion includes headache, nausea, memory lapses, emotional instability, sleeping problem, and change of appetite. The frequent blows that characterize a competitive football game increase the chances of brain dislocation or shock movement that tear and shear the nerves. While the recovery time for concussion depends on the intensity of the blow, repeated cases puts the player in risky situation for other mental related illnesses (Mitka, Mike 32). Effects of concussion are either short-term or long-term. In most cases, an incident of concussion may render the player unconscious for some minutes while experiencing blackout or seeing stars. Such an experience is an indication of instantaneous strain on the brain movement within the skull (Gengenbach and Thomas 322). The subsequent dizziness or headache always prevents the player from continuing in action leading to substitution. In essence, the short term effects of concussions are mild but long-term consequences are fatal. In cases of severe blow to the head, skull fracture and internal bleeding causes immediate death.

A background check on the cases of concussions within NFL shows significant number of retired players that suffer from diverse brain-related problems that is directly attributed to concussion. According to literature review on secondary and primary sources from NFL Player Concussion Pamphlet and CDC records, many football players suffer from dementia, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), depression, and Alzheimer’s disease (Gengenbach and Thomas 342). The mentioned memory and cognitive issues have even compelled some patients to commit suicide. The helmets are notably responsible for increased number of concussion since it induces the confidence and feeling of security during head collisions. In fact, some scholars think that playing without helmet would reduce the risk of concussions and its effects. Such a claim is not true. The history and cultural connection the American people have with football is significantly attached to such tackles that include blow to the head (Muchnick 43). In that respect, even if the game is to remove helmets towards reducing concussions, the taste of the game will be gone and so will be the reduction in number of fans. Besides, the assumption that symptom of concussion if not exposed until retirement certifies good health of the player does not hold.

Removing of the helmet during training may likely instill fear among players and consequently reduce concussion casualties (Ahmadisoleymani, S. Saeed and James Yang 3797). From this perspective, the opponents claim forms a strong basis that may justify dissociating mental problems with concussions among football players. It is also worth to note that long-term cognitive and memory problem among football players may not necessarily be associated with concussion. Family issues, genetic factors and lifestyle may also expose the football players to mental conditions that are likely to be pointed towards concussion. In fact, in some cases the relationship between concussion and observed long-term brain impairment among retired players is a matter of correlation.

While extraneous factors are undeniably possible cause of mental illnesses, concussion contributes significantly. In a show of rebuttal towards claims against the effects of concussion, existing literature indicates that previous cases of concussions may likely boost chances of steady depreciation in cognitive and memory performance as one approaches old age. The cases of an otherwise healthy players committing suicide or dying from a slight fall, or blow are evidence of concealed and undiagnosed concussion (Muchnick 65). The reality of social costs associated with long-term effects of concussion has been evidenced by NFL and government intervention. In fact, in 2011, the fate of a player that has experienced a strong blow was introduced into the rules.  Possibility of sending back such a player or putting him on bench was considered as instrumental in diagnosis and immediate treatment against future complications (Marin,n.d). In fact, contemporary rules and regulations of NFL emphasize identification of injury on the head and spine before the player can be allowed back to field of play. All these strict measures are result of the rising economic costs of CTE patients, rehabilitation of rescued suicide attempts and general treatment for concussion victims (Mitka, Mike 68). Besides, deaths occurring from concussion effects rob the society of great personalities causing grief in the affected families. Some great players have been forced to end their career due to concussion-related trauma. A case in question is Chris Borland of San Francisco 49ers.

It is also worth noting that the number of concussions may not be very important if the power of the blow is not taken into consideration. Additionally, the length of time one takes in concussion reflects the seriousness of the concussion and need for further treatment and management.


It is worth to conclude that concussion has short-term and long-term effects on the football player whether detected or otherwise. Previous legal suits, autopsy results and expanded awareness creation program are all pointing towards the societal recognition that concussion has effects on players.

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