Sports Concussions: The Hidden Dangers

BrainBAND technology for measuring head impact in sports.

Football, beloved by many, is not devoid of risks. Regularly, physiotherapists and doctors treat injuries to knees, ankles, and muscles. Surprisingly, concussions are also prevalent. In response to this, the KNVB has inaugurated a specialized clinic for such injuries.

Read more: Sports Concussions: The Hidden Dangers

The Reality of On-field Collisions:

In the heat of the game, players push boundaries, aiming for supremacy. This ambition sometimes leads to inadvertent collisions. Take, for example, the intense head-to-head between PSV forward Luuk de Jong and an opponent from Heerenveen. Video link.

The severe head injury suffered by de Jong could likely have resulted in a concussion, even if he felt fine. Edwin Goedhart, speaking on the KNVB site, emphasizes the hazards of disregarding such injuries, leading to complications like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) – a condition stemming from multiple concussions, manifesting as impulsive behavior, depression, and potentially, dementia.

Hidden Dangers: Research Insights:

Research from Thomas Talavage of Purdue University illuminates the concerning truth: individuals can sustain concussions without evident symptoms. By placing sensors in American football helmets, Talavage found players often unaware of their concussions. But when these players underwent fMRI scans, the trauma became unmistakable.

Further attention to this invisible affliction was drawn when renowned English striker, Alan Shearer, underwent a comprehensive examination in a compelling documentary. Subsequent investigations by the medical branch of FIFPro, the international players’ union, discovered connections between concussions and mental issues, like depression.

Statistics and KNVB’s Proactive Stance:

According to KNVB data, approximately 4,000 footballers experience concussions annually, with 500 seeking emergency care. To cater to these individuals, the specialized clinic on the KNVB campus was established. “We first assess the incident’s details,” says Goedhart. “Then, we review symptoms, conduct various tests concerning neck movement, balance, and brain function. Based on this data, we offer tailored advice.”

Innovations in Player Safety: The BrainBAND:

How does one gauge the severity of a head blow during a match? Samsung, collaborating with neuroscientist Alan Pearce, created the BrainBAND, a headband that measures impact force. Integrated LEDs illuminate based on impact strength, allowing immediate assessments. This data can be instantly accessed on smart devices, enabling rapid decisions regarding a player’s continued participation. Even referees could receive alerts, pausing the game if necessary. For more details on the BrainBAND.

While promising, the question remains: will professional and amateur teams adopt such technology? If you’ve suffered a head injury, perhaps the KNVB clinic is a consideration. An applaudable initiative indeed!

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