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Wood's Word: Hurting on and off the field

A growing concern is spreading throughout the sporting world, and it has nothing to do with your powerhouse fantasy football team.

Whether we want to hear about it or not, the discussion of sport-related injuries seems to be growing and growing in a world where athletes are doing the same.

The hottest topic of conversation within the injuries suffered through sports seems to be that of concussions.

A concussion can be caused by a heavy blow or hard hit to the body or, in most cases, the head, which causes the brain to shake inside the skull. While the signs can be difficult to identify, the symptoms may include loss of memory, fainting, drowsiness, blurred vision and a very bad headache.

Many people have been injured while playing sports, whether professionally or recreationally. The list goes on and on, but, while some may seem trivial, it seems more attention is being placed today on the lasting effects of sports injuries.

Junior Seau, a former NFL linebacker in the ’90s and 2000s, broke the news earlier this year when he was found dead in his apartment due to a gunshot wound to the chest believed to be self-inflicted. Dave Duerson, a former NFL safety, was found dead in his apartment in early 2011 — also from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Duerson had texted his family prior to his death, stating that he desired for his brain to be studied after he passed away. Families of both victims chose to donate brain tissue of each player in order to be studied for long-term effects of concussions and head injuries.

While both are extreme cases, it seems that the topic of sports injuries may be becoming more prominent because as the games improve, so do the players. And as the players improve and evolve over time, the hits come harder.

Another possible explanation as to why the topic grows could be that the effects of sports injuries may take time to fully develop. While someone may not be feeling the instant effect of a head injury, that injury may slowly grow and create legitimate physiological problems later on in life. Just as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s can develop and increase in severity over time, the “wear and tear” of a career or a serious injury sustained through sports can end up being a great physical risk to one in their lifetime.

The question remains — what should be done about the growing concern of sports injuries? While new protective steps can be taken and new rules and regulations can be put into place, the fact remains that when it comes to playing sports, as you’ll find with any form of physical activities, there are risks. Those who are putting themselves into the game must do so with the understanding that while you may win the game, if you are not careful, your health may not be so lucky.

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