Sports Science: NFL Concussions and helmet to helmet collisions

“Sport Science: NFL Concussions and Helmet to Helmet Collisions.” YouTube. YouTube, 20 Oct. 2010. Web. 03 Mar. 2013.

Concussions are not exclusive to American football, although it is the most covered sport as it relates to concussions.  This is a good time to note that in the United States the next most concussive sport, is soccer, the number one sport in the world. Over 100,000 concussions in all level of football. Sixty percent of these come from head to head collisions. On an impact just lasting 15 mila seconds a players head on average experiences a 100 G’s of force and collision of special teams average about 190 G’s of force.  The most shocking facts to me is that this 15 mila second collision is equivalent to being hit in the head with a sledge hammer.

As you know concussions are becoming an epidemic and the effects can be traumatic. In the last 10 years the average number of days a concussed player is out has more than doubled. Even with new helmet technology today they were only able to reduce an 80 G impact to 40 G’s. This is still several times worse than what a F16 pilot experiences and more than enough to cause a concussion or even a neck fracture.

The most shocking fact to me out of all of this was in the 15 mila second collision the force of the hit is equivalent to getting hit in the head with a sledge hammer. This just goes to show how traumatic a concussion can be. I have known people who received a concussion while playing soccer and forcing them to stay out not only for days, but for months. Concussions can be a very dangerous and life changing event, but there is only so much you can do to prevent them.



Concussion in Sports- Mayo Clinic

“Concussions in Sports – Mayo Clinic.” YouTube. YouTube, 27 Sept. 2012. Web. 03 Mar. 2013.

Sydney Urzendowski’s life was turned upside down by devastating concussions. She shares her story along with David Dodick, M.D., neurologist and concussion expert at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. After seeking treatment at Mayo Clinic she is now on the road to recovery.  The active teenager from Elkhorn, Nebraska, offers advice to others who think it’s okay to “play through” a concussion.

Sydney used to play soccer and softball. Her life was changed all because she played through her concussion. Sydney suffered concussion from a ball that she headed in a soccer game. Despite from scoring the goal Sydney immediately suffered a headache and dizziness.  Sydney was taken out of the game and tested for a concussion. Red flags popped up everywhere, she had a concussion. Sydney did one of the worst things you can do, she continued to stay very active. She continued going to school and playing her sports, but this all resulted in making the situation dramatically worse.  For two years Sydney had trouble sleeping, extreme headaches, and even depression. When Sydney reached her breaking point Sydney was treated at the Mayo Clinic and slowly but surely returning back to her normal state.

Sydney’s story is just one of many stories that people can relate to. Her biggest message to everyone at the end of the video was to immediately get out of the game if you take any hard blows to the head, it’s not worth it. This story has a happy ending, but it’s heart breaking to see the struggle she went through for two years all because she continued to play through her concussion. I know I can learn and take valid advice away from this video.

Concussion: Tests and diagonosis

Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Definition.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 22 Feb. 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.

You may or may not know what to do if you get a concussion. This could be your first of second, but whether it be your first or second you shouldn’t take it lightly. If a blow to your head, neck or upper body has caused symptoms such as a headache, dizziness, nausea or loss of consciousness, chances are you’ve had a concussion. Although these signs and symptoms of these injuries may not appear until hours or days after the injury. Brain imaging may be required to determine whether the injury is severe and has caused bleeding or swelling in your skull.

The Mayo Clinic says they may perform neurological exams like:

  • Memory and concentration
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Strength and sensation
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Reflexes

According to Mayo Clinic “A cranial computerized tomography (CT) scan is the standard test to assess the brain right after injury. A CT scanner takes multiple cross-sectional X-rays and combines all the resulting images to produce detailed, two-dimensional images of your skull and brain. During the procedure, you lie still on a table that slides through a large, doughnut-shaped X-ray machine. The scan is painless and generally takes less than 10 minutes.” Although this test may not always be required or performed.

If it comes down to it the hospital may keep you overnight for observation. It may be okay for you to be observed at home if OK’d by your doctor, someone should check on you every few hours for at least 24 hours. You may also need to be awakened periodically to make sure you can be roused to normal consciousness.


TED Talk: Kim Gorgens

“Kim Gorgens: Protecting the Brain against Concussion.” TED: Ideas worth Spreading. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2013.

Kim Gorgens is a neuropsychologist that makes the case for better protecting our brains against the risk of concussion. Dr. Gorgens starts off the video by giving a little information about her personal life. She say’s she has a young son who is in soccer. As she continues she puts out the statistic about children 14 years and younger with concussion related visits to the hospital. Cycling 34,366, football 16,902, skateboarding/scootering 11,727, baseball/softball 11,672, and basketball 11,359. Gorgen says when we talk about concussions today many of us say “getting our bell rung” or “dinged” but what really does this mean?

As Kim Gorgens continues her talk by putting out shocking information. Getting into a T-bone car that is 40 mph is 35 G’s, getting hit by a heavy weight boxer in the face 58 G’s, and a kid being hit full on in football is a 103 G’s. The averaged concussed is about 98 G’s. It is also said that when you get a concussion it doesn’t require loss of consciousness it requires a change in consciousness, such as headache, irritability, confusion, amnesia, and so on. Dr. Gorgens continues her speech about concussions and how much they can effect you after you’ve only just had one. Now she says there isn’t one way you can truly prevent concussions from happening besides being more careful such as wearing your helmet while bike riding.

This TED Talk with Kim Gorgens was another eye opener to me. The part of her talk that really stood out to me was the car crash, the boxer, and the football hit and how the football had a 103 G’s of force hitting. Hearing that really makes me put what sport I do into perspective and how at risk I am every time I step on that soccer field.

UAA Concussion Research

“UAA Mouth Guard May Provide Insight into Concussions.” Green & Gold News. N.p., n.d.    Web. 20 Feb. 2013.

This article I found about concussions is a little bit closer to home. The University of Anchorage Alaska have done some concussion research themselves. They have noticed that there is plenty of information and statistics about emergency room visits from sports- and recreation-related brain injury among children and adolescents (almost 175,000 annually, up 60 percent over the past decade), there is very little information about what actually happens to the brain when it takes a hit. While there is helmets to measure the impact of a hit, UAA says, “..since the upper jaw is part of the skull, the mouth turns out to be a much better source of data.”

Three engineers at UAA, Anthony Paris, Jennifer Brock and John Lund, along with several undergraduates, are working hard to evolve a mouth guard with sophisticated instruments for measuring these forces. While research and tests continue they said challenges they’re facing are getting accurate measurements, capturing and wirelessly transmitting the data, and then developing useful information about brain injury from it.

The way the measure the impacts to the brain is by accelerations in Gs. Engineers measure linear acceleration in Gs (acceleration triggered by gravity) and angular acceleration in radians per second squared. Gravity causes a free falling object to drop at 1 G and a record turntable accelerates at 3.49 radians per second squared. To help explain this measurement a little more is “Now consider a soccer ball moving at 27 mph hitting a player’s head. Their mouth guard measured linear accelerations at about 28 Gs and angular accelerations of 3,900 radians per second squared.”

I think it is amazing how far concussion research has gotten. The University of Anchorage Alaska has taken another forward than just a measurement from a helmet. And it’s also quite amazing to me that this research is only in it’s early stage. I’m glad that there is research like this going on so close to home.

Impact of Concussions

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20      
  Sept. 2012. Web. 30. Jan. 2013.

           Straight A student and soccer star what can be better? For Sarah this all changed just from her concussion she suffered in soccer. Sarah’s stated, “For me, recovering from the concussion was harder than recovering from other injuries I’ve had. When I got a concussion, I expected to sit out some games, but I never realized that it would actually hurt to think.”  Sarah’s biggest struggle she faced was here everyday school life. She required support and constant communication between her doctors, parents, and teachers. For two months Sarah could not stay through a full day of school without her symptoms causing a distraction. Sarah said, “My concussion didn’t just sideline me from sports; it also sidelined me from school. Before my injury, I was taking advanced classes. Immediately afterward, I couldn’t even do simple math problems in my head and couldn’t keep up with the lessons. Without extra support, my injury could have had a significant negative impact on my academic record.” After a long four months of appropriate recovery Sarah made a full recovery. She is now successful in her school work and on the sports field.
           Concussions can have a drastic impact on you in school. You may need to take rest breaks as needed, spend fewer hours at school, be given more time to take tests or complete assignments, receive help with schoolwork, and/or spend less time on the computer, reading, or writing. While most athletes do recover quickly and fully there are some who may experience what Sarah experienced. The most important thing is to make sure you recover the right way and fully.

The Pressure of Sports

Miller, George. The Prentice Hall Reader. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.

           Being cut from a sports team can be heartbreaking especially to a kid. Cut from a team that all your friends are on can be so disappointing and a letdown. Bob Greene a grown man still remembers the time when he was twelve and being cut from his Junior High Basketball team. He had walked up to the piece of paper tacked to the bulletin board and looking up to see his name on the cut list. Holding it together as best as he could he walked about of the gymnasium and made his way home, but cried all the way home. This story was only one of many stories of people being cut from a sports team.
           Bob Graham is a successful thirty-six year old partner with the Jenner & Block law firm in Chicago. He was sixteen when he was cut from his baseball team. Graham said, “…baseball was my whole life.” Being cut from the baseball team had to be one of the hardest things he went through as a high school teenager. He said, “The cut list went up. I did not make the team. Reading that cut list is one of the clearest things I have in my memory. I wanted not to believe it, but there it was.” Maurice McGrath, Author Malcolm MacPherson, and Dan Rather all successful men in life had all experienced this sometime in their life. This memory is one never forgotten by them, but without the struggle on the way they may have never turned out as successful as they are today.
           When you’re cut from a team it is probably one of the most heart wrenching things you can experience as a kid growing up. I have seen it happen to girls many of times who I have played soccer with all my life. When you are only a kid a sport means so much to you. Although these men were cut from sports team growing up I believe everything happens for a reason and if they didn’t get cut from this team they might not be the successful people they are today. Again this subject may be off topic, but I think is an important factor to concussions. The pressure for kids to make “the team” is being put on them more now than it ever has. Not is the pressure on for making “the team” but for sucking it up when they get hurt and staying in the game.

Sports Evolving

Miller, George. The Prentice Hall Reader. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.    Print

           Getrude Ederle swam the English Channel in 1926 and did it two hours faster than any of the men who had preceded her to be a “weak women”. Ederle had proven every man wrong who had doubted her. Forty-one years later a woman named Kathrine Switzer ran a marathon. Now the fact that she ran a marathon is amazing just itself, but the fact that she ran a marathon when no women were allowed to run makes it more amazing. Switzer entered the Boston Marathon as number 261. She was physically ready and mentally ready to conquer this marathon. As she begins a man attempts to stop her from the rest of the race but is unsuccessful. Switzer proceeds on with the marathon and finishes the whole marathon. Kathrine Switzer gained the attention of every newspaper around. It wasn’t for another five years in 1972, before women were allowed to run.
           This is where Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 began. This law stated that gender discrimination was illegal, making millions of girl’s athletes. Mia Hamm, Gabby Reece, Rebecca Lobo, and Lisa Leslie were all women who became shining women athletes. Without this law women would not have the great opportunities that they have had. Little girls would not have role models to look up to in life.
           I’ve learned I shouldn’t take the sport I play for granted, because without these strong and ambitious women in history we would have never had the right to play. People fought for our right to play the sport we love and we should embrace it. Today one of my biggest inspirations is Carli Lloyd who plays on the Women’s National Soccer team and without Title XI being passed I would not be able to look up to her as the female athlete she is today. Although this post is a little off topic I thought it would be a good reminder on how far sports have evolved from then to now.

Shelby’s Story

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20
Sept. 2012. Web. 16 Dec. 2012.

Shelby was a junior in high school when her first concussion occurred. We hear a lot about concussion in football and in soccer, but in this case it was cheerleading. When Shelby received her first concussion her team was doing a stunt called “double down”.  Her head had collided with her teammates. Shelby had done the right thing and took 5 weeks off of cheerleading and then was cleared to go back. A couple months later after returning Shelby received her second concussion, but this time the effects were more serious. Shelby was faced with sensitivity to light and noise, experienced fainting spells, seizures, anxiety, and depression.
After four weeks off of school Shelby had returned back to school on a reduced schedule and on a 504 Plan. The 504 Plan is an implemented when a student has temporary or permanent disability that affects their performance.
As time went on Shelby worked harder than ever to get back to her normal everyday life and ways. It wasn’t easy her grades dropped and she still struggled multitasking, focusing, and short-term-memory. She went from being an honor student from struggling to pass school. Today Shelby can no longer cheerlead she is still involved coaching and helping out anyway possible. Like Shelby stories like these are heard once too often, but these stories are catching the attention of those needed.  CDC has taken action and partnered with AACCA and every summer to distribute CDC “Heads Up” concussion safety materials to cheer coaches and camps, reaching approximately 450,000 middle, high school all star, and college cheerleaders.
When I hear stories like this it just goes to show how serious concussions can be. Hearing about sports related concussions the sports I automatically think are football and soccer, but after hearing about Shelby’s story reminded me of how serious they are in any sport you play. I have never heard a story this serious with facing the struggle of depression. You must be careful in any sport you play.