Dr. Alan B. Ashare looks over research on concussions. PHOTO CREDIT: BAYLEE WRIGHT

Safety First: Protecting Athletes From Concussions

By Tenzin Dorjee

In United States high schools, experts say football and ice hockey tend to be the leading cause of concussions.

Recent research shows the dangers of these sports are more prevalent than previously conceived. Up until 2010, a grading system was used to measure concussions, according to Dr. Alan B. Ashare, an expert on concussions and chair to the MIAA Sports Medicine committee. Grade 1 was only confusion. Grade 2 included confusion and amnesia. Grade 3 was unconsciousness. Ashare said the system was invalidated due to the inaccuracy of the actual long-term severity of the symptoms.

To reduce the number of concussions, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) placed many new restrictions on how much contact is allowed. The MIAA is the official governing body for all high school athletics in Massachusetts.

With the popularity of contact sports, sometimes regulations are put in place without enough extensive research. In 2001, at the first International Conference on Concussion in Sport, medical professionals concluded that players who show signs of a concussion, should not come back to that game. Before, if a player seemed alright after a suspected concussion, they were allowed to play immediately.

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Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron had four concussions in 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2013, but continues to play, according to an article on Boston.com. In an ESPN article, Former Bruins center Marc Savard said “I wasn’t a guy that forgot too much and I seem like I’m forgetting my phone at home.”He has not played a game since 2010,

Dr. Richard C. Cantu said how another big enigma about concussions is it is impossible to tell when someone has one. As a result, clinical diagnosis can only be “given based on symptoms that somebody has to admit to,” Cantu said.  

While conventional medicine is the path many concussed players take on their road to recovery, alternative medicine has shown itself to be a successful option. A major case for alternative medicine is Philadelphia Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who credits his recuperation to Dr. Frederick Carrick, a chiropractic neurologist. Crosby had seen many conventional medical doctors, with little to no progress.

Some concussions can also stem from upper cervical vertebrae damage. Since stimulation and nutrition can travel through the movement of the spine, chiropractors can help treat concussions as well.

Alternative medicine treats concussions differently than conventional medical procedures.

“We specialize in removing anything that is blocking or interfering with the body’s ability to heal itself,” said  Dr. Wendy Coburn, a chiropractor, based in Canada. “[This] is a totally different perspective from medicine where it looks from the outside in and provides and give something to help their body heal.”

Where there are risks of injury, policies will be considered by many professionals to help protect the lives of athletes.

Dorjee-Concussion Anatomy

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