American football is a full-contact game, which explains why the overwhelming majority of those playing the sport have injuries, and brain injuries in particular. However, the range of health problems associated with American football is not limited to concussions. In this article, you will find a list of other health issues players may have after playing the game for a while.
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American football is a violent game, especially in comparison with the football popular in the rest of the world (the one we call soccer). The range of health problems you can experience while or after playing it is wide, and it includes but is not limited to the following.
This one is among the major concerns related to football. Concussions, especially if they are recurrent (which is often the case with football players) increase the risk of dementia and CTE, which stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. For many, high school experience is synonymous with paying football, so the share of young men with such problems is rather significant. Symptoms of concussions may be difficult to detect, which means a player who has just been hit in the head is likely to return to the field instead of being treated immediately.
It’s only recently that it was revealed that hits to the head are to blame for CTE, which is diagnosed in most football players. CTE is not an injury; it is a disease capable of progressing. Even one hit can be enough to trigger the processes involved in its development, and the fact that such hits are recurrent in football players contributes to the risk of it: the player’s brain simply does not have enough time to recover until another hit is suffered.
Traumatic brain injury
Being hit in the head can result in a variety of problems, including the ones mentioned above. There are also traumatic brain injuries, which mean the brain tissue is damaged. According to the CDC, more than 2 high school football players die every year after such an injury.
Depression and impaired executive function
Those who start playing the sport at an early age are likely to experience long-term effects, such as having difficulty planning, analyzing, and performing other tasks, Boston University scientists say. The cognitive and neuropsychiatric outcomes reported by the researchers suggest playing football at such a critical for brain development stage of life could double the risk of problems with behavior and mood.
The CTE-induced depression is not uncommon, and dementia can also follow.
A reason for banning?
One the one hand, football players have become bigger and stronger, compared to those who played in the 50s. On the other hand, the protective gear used nowadays is more effective, but its being superior to the one used earlier surprisingly takes its toll too: as players rely on the gear more, they are more reckless and not that afraid of “leading with the head”, which results in even more injuries.
It is clear that something has to be done to help prevent health problems stemming from playing the violent yet popular sport. As of this moment, it is still not decided what aspect of it should be overhauled first: its rules, the gear, or something else.
Still, banning the sport is not an option, because it will thrive anyway, as Americans love it. Besides, it can bring health benefits, just like any other sport, so reducing the frequency of hits seems to be the only way to try to prevent further damage to the brains of football players.
High school football concussions and long-term health concerns: Research roundup –Journalistsresource.org