Saturday, November 10, 2007

Life Saving Helmets

I am a klutz, I won't deny it. I have broken 12 bones, sprained my neck and had two concussions, all of which were not involved with any car accidents or anything that was fully out of my control. So reading this article scares me a little bit.

There is new evidence that football players, who literally use their head to win games, might suffer from a disease related to boxer's dementia called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE. It seems to be caused by repeated concussions, which was the scary part for me. CTE is characterized by confusions, memory loss, slurred speach and mood disorders, like an elderly person who has dementia.

There was thought that this condition existed long before scientists got more concrete proof. To me, its seems like more than a coincidence that many football players that had many concussions would die early and usually from something they had caused. Proof came in the form of an autopsy. The medical examiner found that the player that had died has suffered brain damage.

The problem now is that people, namely the NFL, aren't exactly convinced that this is a risk they should worry about. To give their side a chance, the symptoms aren't fully consistent with boxer's dementia and there isn't a lot of proof for separate cases. But different injuries will lead to different parts of the brain being damaged and that will lead to different symptoms.

There is a helmet out now that can prevent this whole problem. It is full of sensors that relay real time information to the sports medicine people on the sidelines about everything that's hitting the head of the player wearing it. This bit of technology can be used to gage how severe a brain trauma is and can help the people on the sidelines know when to bench a player. It can also help a lot with research in this condition. So far seven universities and five high schools use the helmets to protect their players. The NFL is still dragging its feet, but at least they are considering the technology.

In my opinion, it is much better to play it safe than sorry. I would rather my star player live a long happy life that kill himself at 40 after having severe depression. I would also like one for myself, just in case.(I'm sure you know I'm kidding.)

Thanks again Popular Science for the content and the picture. Go ahead and read more on the subject at their website.

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