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The theory of relativity states that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Recent headlines have driven that point home and some seemingly unrelated stories intersect at one common point—football. Upon closer examination of the stories however, you see how they are entwined and how certain actions produce the reactions that mimic physical law.
The increasing recognition of concussions by medical practitioners and the population at large is a huge advance for those of us who take care of head-injured patients.
Unfortunately, the recognition of a simultaneous inner ear problem was, and still is, routinely missed. Inner ear damage during a concussion is not only common, it is difficult or near impossible to have a concussion WITHOUT having an inner ear injury. After a car accident and a trip to the emergency room, broken bones get set and bleeding gets tended to, but the damage to your inner ear usually doesn’t get noticed. Why?
For every year of absorbing the pounding and repeated head collisions that comes with playing American tackle football, a person’s risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease, increases by 30 percent. And for every 2.6 years of play, the risk of developing CTE doubles. These new findings from an analysis of 266 deceased former amateur and professional football players—reported in Annals of Neurology by a team of researchers from the Boston University CTE Center—are the first to quantify the strength of the link between playing tackle football and developing CTE.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s injury and return to play during the team’s NFC Wild Card playoff game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Jan. 7 was another reminder of the weakness of the National Football League’s current concussion protocol. In a January 11 rant on Players Tribune, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman called the league’s concussion protocols “a joke.”