Brain Injuries In Football (essential Issues) By Stephanie Watson by Stephanie Watson

91568ba173bdd99.jpg Author Stephanie Watson
Isbn 978-1624034176
File size 3.5 MB
Year 2014
Pages 112
Language English
File format PDF
Category sport


BRAIN INJURIES IN FOOTBALL BRAIN INJURIES IN FOOTBALL BY STEPHANIE WATSON CO NTENT CO NSULTANT EL AD I. LEV Y, M D, M BA, FACS, FAHA PRO FESSO R A N D CHA I R O F N EU ROSU RG ERY SU NY AT BU FFALO Essential Library An Imprint of Abdo Publishing | Published by Abdo Publishing, a division of ABDO, PO Box 398166, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55439. Copyright © 2015 by Abdo Consulting Group, Inc. International copyrights reserved in all countries. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. Essential Library™ is a trademark and logo of Abdo Publishing. Printed in the United States of America, North Mankato, Minnesota 042014 092014 Cover Photo: Alex Brandon/AP Images Interior Photos: Alex Brandon/AP Images, 2; Gene J. Puskar/AP Images, 6; SPL/ Custom Medical Stock Photo, 11; Ben Liebenberg/AP Images, 14; Andriy Muzyka/ Thinkstock, 16; Amy Myers/Shutterstock Images, 23; Al Golub/AP Images, 24; Pro Football Hall of Fame/AP Images, 27; Justin Skinner/Thinkstock, 34; Mark Mulville/ The Buffalo News/AP Images, 37; Cal Sport Media/AP Images, 41; Mark Duncan/AP Images, 42; Keith Srakocic/AP Images, 45; Ben Margot/AP Images, 47; Bob Leverone/ AP Images, 50; Michael Dwyer/AP Images, 54; G. Newman Lowrance/AP Images, 60; David J. Phillip/AP Images, 64; Steven Senne/AP Images, 66; Brian Cahn/Zuma Press/Newscom, 69; Bob Wellinski/The LaPorte Herald-Argus/AP Images, 74; David Drapkin/AP Images, 76; Don Wright/AP Images, 81; Elaine Thompson/AP Images, 83; Nick Wass/AP Images, 86; Brian Wallace/AP Images, 92; Peter Weber/Shutterstock Images, 95 Editor: Angela Wiechmann Series Designer: Becky Daum Library of Congress Control Number: 2014932557 Cataloging-in-Publication Data Watson, Stephanie. Brain injuries in football / Stephanie Watson. p. cm. -- (Essential issues) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-62403-417-6 1. Football injuries--United States--Juvenile literature. 2. Brain--Concussion--United States--Juvenile literature. I. Title. 617.1--dc23 2014932557 CONTENTS CHAPTER 1 IRON MIKE 6 CHAPTER 2 INSIDE BRAIN INJURIES 14 CHAPTER 3 FOOTBALL TAKES ITS TOLL 24 CHAPTER 4 DANGERS TO YOUNG PLAYERS 34 CHAPTER 5 STUDYING BRAIN INJURIES 42 CHAPTER 6 DENIAL AND RESISTANCE 54 CHAPTER 7 A SENSE OF VICTORY 66 CHAPTER 8 A SHIFT IN FOOTBALL 76 CHAPTER 9 THE FUTURE OF FOOTBALL 86 Timeline Essential Facts Glossary Additional Resources Source Notes Index About the Author About the Consultant 96 100 102 104 106 110 112 112 CHAPTER ONE IRON MIKE W hen kids dream of becoming National Football League (NFL) stars, they aspire to be like Mike Webster—a true American football hero. Webster was raised on a potato farm in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. He was such a standout on his high school football team, he was recruited to play college ball. Webster played for the University of Wisconsin. Only a tiny percentage of college football players ever get drafted to the NFL. Webster was part of that elite few. He joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as a center in 1974. Webster played football the way it was intended to be played—tough and unforgiving. He was small for a football player, measuring only six feet one (1.9 m) and weighing 215 pounds (97 kg). But he used his head like a battering ram to block much bigger players. Webster’s strength and fearlessness on the field earned him the nickname “Iron Mike.” He went on to play 17 seasons, winning four Super Bowl championships with the Steelers. Mike Webster was a football legend who saw a tragic end. 7 EFFECTS ON THE FAMILY Living with brain injuries is incredibly hard on former players. But it is also hard on their spouses and family members. “It was like living in a tornado,” Pam Webster, Mike’s former wife, said. “A counselor told us that we were living in so much stress we didn’t know what stress was. . . . I didn’t understand that he was sick.” Pam was told 60 percent of marriages fail after players retire.1 The Websters separated in 1992. Six months before Mike’s death in 2002, the couple officially divorced after 27 years of marriage. In 1990, Webster retired from the NFL while he was still in his 30s. He spent some quality time with his wife and four children in their Kansas City, Missouri, dream home. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. Life after football seemed idyllic. But under the surface, something was very wrong. Tragedy Unfolds Once easygoing, Webster began flying into rages at his family and friends. He suddenly became paranoid, believing people were listening in on his telephone calls and following him. He spent money without thinking, buying luxuries he could not afford, including a speedboat and a pair of motorcycles. Eventually he drained the family’s bank account, and they were forced to sell their dream home. Webster did not act or look right. When he was in his 40s, he seemed like a man far older. He limped from 8 • ES SEN T I A L IS SU ES a damaged right heel. His right shoulder was always sore, and his knees were worn away. His fingers bent in all the wrong directions. He suffered from agonizing headaches. Webster’s back hurt so much he had to sleep sitting up in a chair. Sometimes he LITTLE HELP FROM THE NFL would shoot himself with a In the years when there stun gun just so he could get was no proof football had some rest. To make it through caused brain injuries, many former NFL players struggled each day, Webster relied on a to afford around-the-clock medical care. The NFL did combination of drugs. He took not pay benefits to these Paxil to relieve his anxiety, players, as there was no proof yet the sport had Prozac to hold off depression, caused the brain injuries and Ritalin to help him think resulting symptoms. When Webster’s family clearly, and Vicodin or Darvocet tried to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in to relieve his numerous aches. benefits for his disabilities, The drugs didn’t help the NFL claimed his disability was not from him regain control of his life. playing football. The league contended he had become His speech was incoherent. disabled after retiring. The He lost his memory and was NFL initially agreed to pay him only $42,000 a year.2 often confused. By the 1990s, They eventually settled on the former NFL star was so $115,000 a year. 3 lost and disoriented, he once B R A I N I N J U RI ES I N FO OT BA L L •9 left his home and slept in a Greyhound bus station in downtown Pittsburgh. On September 24, 2002, Webster developed chest pains. He was rushed to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where tests showed his heart was shutting down. Webster was pronounced dead at age 50. The official cause of death was heart failure, but the last years of his life suggested something had also been terribly wrong with his brain. Discovery in a Morgue September 28, 2002, started out as a normal day for Bennet Omalu. As a forensic pathologist, his job was to examine dead bodies for the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office in Pittsburgh. He was like a detective, trying to find out exactly how a person had died when the cause of death was uncertain. On this particular day, the body he examined belonged to former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster. Something about the case struck him as odd. The official cause of death had been a heart attack. Omalu was not a football fan, but he had seen a television story that recounted Webster’s recent troubles—his drug 10 • ES SEN T I A L IS SU ES Finding tau protein (shown as red and pink) in Webster’s brain, Omalu made a major breakthrough. addiction and strange behavior before he died. Omalu wanted to investigate a little more deeply. Omalu cut open the hard, bony shell of Webster’s skull to reveal the brain inside. On the surface, Webster’s brain looked fairly normal. But when Omalu sliced off thin sections from each part of the brain and examined them under a microscope, he was amazed by what he saw. It was full of tau protein. The substance made Webster’s brain look very similar to the brain of an 85-year-old person with Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that causes memory loss and affects B R A I N I N J U RI ES I N FO OT BA L L • 11 functioning. No one had ever seen anything like this in the brain of a middle-aged football player. “I knew this was a billion-dollar kind of finding when I saw it,” Omalu said.4 More Tragedies Webster was not the only football player to meet a tragic end in the early 2000s. On September 30, 2004, Justin Strzelczyk, another former lineman for the Steelers, led police on a high-speed chase along Interstate 90 in New York. He rammed his pickup head-on into a tanker 25 YEARS LATER Life after retiring from the NFL is often challenging. In 2011, Sports Illustrated checked in with 39 of the original 46 players from the 1986 Cincinnati Bengals team to see how they were doing 25 years later. The youngest was 47. The oldest was 62. Some players were doing better than others, but most of them suffered from at least one physical ailment. 12 • Overall, nearly half of the former team members said they were having trouble with memory loss. A third of them reported daily headaches. age Reggie ES At SEN T I A57, L ISlinebacker SU ES Williams had lost his memory. Former guard Max Montoya was only 55 at the time of the interview, but he felt as if he were living in a 70-year-old’s body. “I’m deteriorating,” he told Sports Illustrated. Despite the ailments, some of the players said they would not hesitate to play professional football again if given the chance. Yet others regretted their years in the NFL. Defensive end Jim Skow said his seven seasons playing professional ball were like “trading body parts for money.”5 truck, killing himself instantly. Family and friends said he had seemed paranoid and delusional before the incident. In 2005, Webster’s former Steelers teammate Terry Long killed himself by drinking antifreeze. It was the finale to years of mood swings, depression, and irrational business decisions. On November 20, 2006, 44-year-old Andre Waters of the Philadelphia Eagles shot himself in the head. By the early 2000s, the dark side of football was becoming more and more apparent. Professional football players were not just retiring with sore knees and bad backs. They were becoming mentally disabled—and dying at alarming rates. But that was not all: high school players were running onto the football field healthy and leaving on stretchers. It seemed the sport was destroying the bodies and minds of many of its players. And some people began worrying the risks of football might not be worth the glory. B R A I N I N J U RI ES I N FO OT BA L L • 13 CHAPTER TWO INSIDE BRAIN INJURIES F ootball is a game of speed, strength, and hard hits. Bones can be broken and muscles torn. But as helmets collide and crash on nearly every play, brains can also be injured. Due to its design, the brain is quite vulnerable in a high-impact sport such as football. Injuries can have immediate effects as well as long-term, life-altering repercussions. Sophisticated but Delicate Design The human brain is a complex system made up of more than 1 billion nerve cells called neurons, which transmit messages as quickly and efficiently as a high-speed computer. These signals control every function in the body. When a quarterback flicks his wrist as he throws a football or breathes faster as he runs, neurons are behind these actions. In a flash, neurons transmit the messages in the brain, controlling every thought and movement of a football player like Peyton Manning. 15 As the brain sloshes and smacks during an injury, the delicate design of a neuron can easily tear. Zoom in on a neuron, and it looks almost like a tiny plant bulb with roots sticking out of the end. The round part is the cell body—the core of the neuron that keeps it alive. Projecting from each neuron is a long, thin shoot called an axon. Messages in the form of electric impulses travel down this shoot and pass from one neuron to another. The messages enter the next neuron through the rootlike projections, which are called dendrites. Every time a quarterback plans a new play and executes it, messages zip around from neuron to neuron. 16 • ES SEN T I A L IS SU ES Despite its sophisticated design, the brain is a surprisingly delicate structure. It has the consistency of Jell-O, which makes it vulnerable to damage. For protection, the brain and all its connections are immersed in a bath of fluid and surrounded by a hard, bony skull. But even these defenses are not enough to fully INSIDE THE BRAIN protect against a hard hit on the The brain weighs only football field. approximately three When a Football Player Takes a Hit When a player is tackled and hits his head on the ground, what happens to the delicate brain architecture? His brain jiggles around like a mound of Jell-O, smacking against the sides of his skull. And like Jell-O, the brain does not move in a straight line. It compresses and shifts. Researchers describe this movement as slosh. The twisting and pulling movement pounds (1.3 kg). It controls a person’s every thought, movement, and behavior. The brain is divided into several parts, each with different functions. At the base of the brain is the cerebellum, which controls functions necessary to life, including breathing and heart rate. At the top of the brain is the cerebrum, the area responsible for thinking and memory. Surrounding the cerebrum is a thin layer of brain tissue known as the cerebral cortex. This is where most of the information processing occurs in the brain. It is the human equivalent of a computer’s processing unit. B R A I N I N J U RI ES I N FO OT BA L L • 17 can damage the neurons. They tear, breaking the connections between brain cells. What happens to the player next depends on which part of his brain is injured. He might lose his vision, or he might have trouble remembering he is in the middle of a football game. If an area of his brain controlling balance is damaged, he could feel wobbly and dizzy when he stands up. If he was hit really hard, there is a chance he might black out and become unconscious. Concussions When a brain injury affects functions such as vision, memory, or balance, it is called a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A concussion is a type of TBI. Concussions are not easy to see. They do not show up on X rays. Common symptoms include dizziness; sensitivity to light and noise; blurred vision; changes in behavior; headache; and trouble concentrating, remembering, or sleeping. If the player shows any of these signs after an injury, he may have a concussion. Concussions can be difficult to detect, however. Other medical conditions can cause many of the same symptoms, such as nausea and dizziness. Many people assume a football player has to lose consciousness to 18 • ES SEN T I A L IS SU ES

Author Stephanie Watson Isbn 978-1624034176 File size 3.5 MB Year 2014 Pages 112 Language English File format PDF Category Sport Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Gr 5-9-This informative series focuses on eight issues that could negatively affect teens. The texts are both credible and readable: the authors employ an engaging narrative style supplemented by text boxes and footnotes, relying upon both research and anecdotal evidence from teens. An attractive layout, featuring full-color, captioned photos, enhances these books. The series is marred by some flaws, such as problematic phrasing that may alienate readers , and other sections border on the didactic. Overall, though, this is a clearly written and well-organized series.?(c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.     Download (3.5 MB) Cell Phones And Teens Whitewater Merit Badge Series Cell Phones: Threats To Privacy And Security (cell Phones And Society) Concussion Inc. Swimming Merit Badge Series Load more posts

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