NFL allows vicious concussion-causing hits to continue

NFL allows vicious concussion-causing hits to continue

Chicago : IL : USA | Nov 12, 2012 at 1:11 AM PST
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Artistic rendering of Dobbin hit on Cutler

In the shadow of the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal, the National Football League is still allowing vicious concussion-causing hits to the head.

On Sunday night, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was knocked from the game in the second quarter by such a hit from Texans’ linebacker Tim Dobbins.

It will be up to doctors to determine whether Cutler will be able to play in next week’s important matchup with the 49ers. Of course the San Francisco team may also be playing without its starting quarterback, Alex Smith, because of a concussion he suffered against the Rams. Michael Vick of the Eagles had to leave a game Sunday because of a concussion.

The New York Times said quarterback's heads were being treated like piñatas.

A Sporting News poll found 56 percent of the NFL players it reached said they would try to hide that they were suffering from a concussion, much like soldiers.

"Yes. If I don't play, I feel like I'm letting my team down. I'm not going to put myself at serious risk. But if I can play through it, I'm going to play through it," Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts said.

The league said, in a statement, "A critical element of managing concussions is candid reporting by players of their symptoms following an injury. Accordingly, players are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion."

The risk is that a “second-impact syndrome” concussion will lead to “a condition in which the brain swells rapidly and catastrophically after a person suffers a second concussion before symptoms from an earlier one have subsided,” according to Wikipedia.

The condition can be fatal, or at least lead to severe disability. “The cause of SIS is uncertain, but it is thought that the brain's arterioles lose their ability to regulate their diameter, and therefore lose control over cerebral blood flow, causing massive cerebral edema.”

More than 300,000 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries occur each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If the brain wasn’t such a wonderful organ, with the incredible power of neuroplasticity -- witness former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- the nation might pay more attention to concussions.

Neuroplasticity allows the brain to remap its circuits to shift working responsibility for certain functions when the original neurons are damaged.

Those who saw Sunday night’s hit of Cutler watched his helmet appear to rattle, for lack of a better description. It could have been a scene from a gladiator movie.

In the National Hockey League such a hit might have led to a fight, as his teammates sought to protect their quarterback. Perhaps that is what it will take.

Referees penalized Dobbin, but he appeared to be proud of it, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"It was good that he was out. You always want to take the quarterback out of the game. I hit him in his chest. I did not hit him in his head. Nowhere near,” Dobbin told the newspaper.

"That was ridiculous," Bears center Roberto Garza said. "You shouldn't hit players in the head."

Complicating Cutler’s life is that he has already suffered up to six concussions, depending on who is counting. One may have occurred when he was still in college at Vanderbilt, and another one during his stay with the Denver Broncos.

An autopsy revealed Spring Hill, Kan., football player Nathan Stiles died from second-impact syndrome in a game two years ago. It also showed Stiles had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a result of repeated hits.

Autopsies have revealed that many soldiers had suffered serious head injuries, even if they were not the most immediate cause of their death. Similar research in Britain found that veterans lived more than 30 years after their injuries were suffered without them being discovered.


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The Texans lineback was proud that he knocked Jay Cutler out of Sunday night's game.
Robert Weller is based in Denver, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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