More than just a head injury: brain damage


Graphic courtesy of Max Andrews

Concussions can impair several brain functions, from emotion to breathing.

It seems as though every other day one hears about a student athlete getting a concussion. It has become so common, in fact, that whenever athletes get a concussion there is a question that seems to be on everyone’s mind. That question is not whether or not the aftermath of the concussion could cause detrimental effects to their brains later on in life.

Sophomore Rylee Schofield had to sit out of cross country for five months after getting a concussion.

“For two weeks I was running on a concussion, and I didn’t know that I had one or why my head was constantly hurting,” Schofield said.

What Schofield did not know is just how unsafe running on a concussion really is, and that is understandable. Because they have become such a common phenomenon, concussions have lost some of their severity in the eyes of students. But concussions, or any head injuries for that matter, are nothing to scoff at.

A recent study conducted by the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE), at Boston University School of Medicine, found that the damage a concussion can inflict on the brain is far more extensive than we had previously believed, and therefore, all the more detrimental to its functioning in the long run.

The name for this damage caused by concussions is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

“The damage affects the parts of the brain that control emotion, rage, hypersexuality, even breathing, and recent studies find that CTE is a progressive disease that eventually kills brain cells,” a CSTE source said.

After having had four concussions, sophomore and soccer player Christine Evans is all too familiar with how scary concussions and their side effects can be.

“[After my first concussion] I lost some hearing in my left ear, and I had a huge bump on my head like the ones you see in cartoons,” Evans explained. “One of the most recent [concussions was] right after I got hit in the head…my hands and my feet went numb. It was kind of scary.”

Evans has learned a lot from having so many concussions.
“When I finally went to the doctor and she realized I had a concussion she was shocked, and said it was really unsafe that I was running with a concussion, and that I needed to be aware that I wasn’t supposed to be doing that because the swelling in my brain would increase,” Schofield said. “[From having a concussion I know now] they’re definitely very unsafe for you, especially since I was running on it and using my brain. So, if you ever know you have a concussion, it is really important to get it checked out; otherwise, you can really cause long-term damage to your brain.”