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Head injuries should be treated seriously

In a report released this week, the NFL concluded that high school students are twice as likely to suffer brain injuries as college students when playing football. Concussions are often treated as frequent occurrences, expected side effects of playing sports or engaging in physical activity. However, most students fail to realize that concussions are serious medical conditions that are treated far too lightly and can have significant impacts on one’s academic performance, not only in high school, but also in college.

According to Mayo Clinic, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can cause headaches, loss of concentration, and difficulties with memory, judgment, and coordination. Concussions occur when the brain shifts within the skull. As documented by Medical News Today, effects from concussions can last up to decades after the incident if the injury is severe enough.

This information is cause for concern, as many concussions happen to high school students whose brains are still developing. Silive.com reported that approximately 502,000 people between the ages of 8 and 19 were admitted to emergency rooms with concussions between 2001 and 2005, and half of these were attributed to sports. More shockingly, the American College of Sports Medicine documents 300,000 sports- and recreation-related concussions in the U.S. each year, but estimates that this number may be seven times greater in reality, as many concussions are never reported.

The brain trauma associated with concussions can have serious implications, especially for those with developing brains. Many people who have concussions say that their cognitive performance suffers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documented a case in which a student reported that it “actually hurt to think” after a concussion. These injuries have negative impacts on learning and school performance, which can have a long-term impact on student’s success and well-being. Effects of concussions can last weeks after symptoms disappear, and mental exertion can worsen these effects, according to The Wall Street Journal. For high school and college students who suffer concussions, the injury can mean less-than-optimal academic performance in the weeks following the injury.

People need to be more aware of the effects of concussions and consider taking further steps to protect athletes from injuries that can negatively impact their academic futures. Generally, students who suffer concussions should not mentally exert themselves too much in the weeks following their injury. They must consider that the effects may last long after the initial injury and should not attempt to resume their normal strenuous academic schedules until they have given the brain ample time to recover.