Check Up from the Neck Up
Insights and perspectives on injury prevention, rehabilitation, health and fitness
Each year, roughly 15% of football players suffer a mild traumatic brain injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the odds are even worse for teenage athletes. Teenage players suffer nearly 2 million brain injuries each year, and the likelihood of suffering a concussion is three times higher for football players than the second most dangerous sport (women’s soccer). Adding to these frightening statistics, Grantland.com reported that high school football players who suffer three or more concussions are nearly 10 times more likely to exhibit multiple abnormal responses to head injury, including loss of consciousness and persistent amnesia.
Some concussions are diagnosed as minor, however in reality, there are no minor concussions; brain trauma is brain trauma. A player does not have to lose consciousness to have a concussion, and unfortunately those who have experienced repeated concussions are susceptible to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is quite similar to Alzheimer’s disease in that those who suffer from it often experience memory loss, mood disorders, and depression.
Whether you are a football lover or hater, you have most likely come to the realization that football is and always will be a dangerous sport. There is however a new realization about just how dangerous football can be long after a player has retired from the sport. The players that we love and have lost will always be a painful reminder.
Although we have become privy to the down side of this beloved sport, we have also become aware of what we can do to help prevent concussions and head injuries; strengthening the neck musculature. According to the experts in the field, a stronger neck can actually dissipate the force of a violent blow to the head, through your neck and down into the torso and protect your brain.
When your neck is strong it will slow the head movement down from a blow, and stop it before it snaps back and rattles the brain. I realize that I have said it before, but I am going to be redundant concerning this matter. Since we know that strengthening the neck can help prevent catastrophic injuries and concussions, why isn’t every athlete training his or her neck? The good news is that many teams including high school teams have implemented neck training into their programs. If your athletes are playing sports, especially football, I encourage you to help educate them and their parents about what they can do to help combat concussions. If you are a parent ask if your kids school provides neck strengthening equipment and how often they use it. The neck is the first and last part of the body that an athlete should train. Train your neck and protect your brain!
Jenni Jolly, M.A. Clinical Psychology, Vice President of Mission Competition Fitness Equipment and more importantly, Mother On A Mission
Bad Brains: The NFL and Its Concussion Crisis
by Jesse Goodman 1, 2013