Skull and brain damage through sports

Our brains are protected in a natural way through the skull. Damage to the skull (e.g., fractured skull) can cause brain damage. If the head breaks so that in the brains or bone splinters penetrate it could have grave consequences for brain function. Even if the head is not damaged can occur from a fall or a hard blow brain damage. Both cranial and brain injuries occur from mild to severe. By brain damage can cause behavioral changes. A helmet can reduce damage.

Skull and brain damage through sports

Petr Cech, goalkeeper with helmet

That protection of the brains through the skull is not always sufficient emerged when the famous Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech came hard into conflict in 2006 with the knee of an opposing player. The powerful blow part of his skull was pushed inward. The danger was that the bone or the splinters of it ended up in the brains, and that would cause irreparable damage. There was a severe skull fracture.

Cech underwent surgery. Luckily for him, there were no head parts of the brains were found to be penetrated. Of the head repair was necessary. There are two holes in his head were made to restore a large piece of broken bone back into place. The brains of Cech were quite shaken up making his months to severe headache pain. Apparently, brains are not so damaged that he could see no more notches. His skull was repaired but remains a weak spot. To avoid during the grooves that the weaknesses in his head being hit again, he kept since then with a helmet.

If a skull part or splinters in the brains penetrate, brains can be severely damaged. The brains are all sorts of areas of the brain, nerve fibers, and blood vessels that lead to damage to impaired functioning of the brains. For example, enter an injury in the left part of the brain than can lead to language problems, damage to the front can cause concentration and planning problems and to the right to spatial problems.

Skull and brain damage, some figures

One is called an acquired brain injury (ABI) brain damage caused by sports. This contrasts with a congenital brain damage, brain damage here is around or after birth, such as lack of oxygen or infection. According to figures from the patient, Hersenletsel.nl run annually 76,000 people a head injury during exercise. In 2013 3200 athletes were treated with brain injury including 500 with severe skull and brain injuries.

Skull and brain damage, some figures

Sports where the risk of brain damage is high

During physical exercise, we often see that the skull is damaged, which causes brain damage. In martial arts in which blows are permitted on the head, such as boxing and cage fighting, the risk of brain damage is high. The head should be collected continuously blows at these sports. Known is the example of former boxer Muhammad Ali who appeared to have sustained during his fights, so the brain is allowing him, after his boxing career, had Parkinson’s disease. But also in sports such as horse riding, cycling, football, hockey, skiing, skating, and rugby comes to brain injury.

The racing driver Schumacher ran in 2013 because of a fall while skiing severe brain injury. After months of having been in a coma, he could go home in September last year to be cared for and rehabilitate. Former American Football Dave Duerson was on the field for years blows to his head. He suffered massive damage to his brains as demonstrated by brain scans. In his brains found a protein (tau) that forms by blows to the head. Excess tau in nerve creates congestion and ultimately destruction which brains to work less. Symptoms include forgetfulness, depression, and dementia. Duerson became depressed and committed suicide.

Helmets provide extra protection. In cycling and skiing, we see that most use it. Unfortunately, when not yet skating, while also in this sport is clear that the risk of brain damage is large. The former skater Marieke Wiseman came across it years ago when she was hit by a skater during a workout from behind. In her mind, she landed hard on the ice right. A skull fracture was the result. Also, they had on the left side in the head an accumulation of blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Helmets do not prevent brain damage but reduce the risk of severe brain injury.

What happens when a hard blow to the head?

Between the brains and skull is cerebrospinal fluid. This ensures that the brains do not arrive at the head. The primary function of this is cushioning and protection of brains. If there is now a hard blow to the front, side or back of the head then comes the cerebrospinal fluid is pushed away and get the brains against the skull too. Then shoot the brains to the other side of the head and get there also a huge hit, and then come back and hit if the skull again. Even then cerebrospinal pushed.

The coming of the brains at two sides of the skull is called contre coup. The consequences can be severe because blood vessels can rupture by the force of the collision and bonding wires (neurons) break down between brain areas. By broken blood vessels bleeding in the brains arise and broken jumpers brain areas communicate with each other no more. Brain chemical fabrics also are released into areas where they should not.

Underestimation of brain damage in sports

Research by the Brain Foundation shows that athletes especially light underestimate head and brain injuries. If there is not quick, and timely acted in a proper way, victims alongside a slow recovery process throughout their lives physical and psychological problems. According to the Utrecht professor of psychiatry Sommer (7) are possible consequences:

  • Physical changes such as loss of strength, pain, loss of senses, physical fatigue and problems with balance and loss of power in one or more body parts.
  • Behavioral changes: less patience, less inhibition, irritability, cursing, yelling, emotionally.
  • Cognitive changes; slower thinking, concentration problems, aphasia, observation and memory problems.
  • Psychological changes: hallucinations, severe anxiety, delusions, depression, post-traumatic disorder, addiction problems.

Underestimation of brain damage in sports

Is cranial and prevent brain damage in sport?

With physical games in which blows or falls prevent brain damage is unavoidable. However, there are opportunities to reduce cost. To that end provides extra protection helmet of the skull. This can absorb the first blow. However, it prevents a brain damage not.

At a young age is a helmet recommended. Parents, caregivers, and trainers were in sports where the head can be affected, need to be acquainted with any consequences. Damage to children’s brains can give problems later on the football club Unitas from Gorinchem both learning and socially. It has taken the responsibility to protect young players by requiring all pupils keepers to 12 years to wear a helmet during training and competition.

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