I had one of my infrequent encounters with television at the Wintergreen Lodge over the weekend. (I really should make a point to experience an hour or so of TV once or twice a year, because the novelty of what I experience as a naive tube consumer always shocks me into writing something.)
Two unfamiliar British towns were playing each other in soccer as I watched, bored to tears in my motel room last weekend. After all the recent news about traumatic brain injury, the header-balls in this game I was watching really made an impression. I winced involuntarily.
Often, it was a high, arching down-field punt by the goalie that was met at the other end of the field by a player’s unprotected head. The concussive forces have to be significant with such a blow–which, for any individual player, might happen often in a single game, and even more frequently in hundreds of hours of practice.
And while such “benign” blows might not produce any discernible pain or sensory changes in the player immediately, it may be that more damage is done than we have previously been able to prove.
There’s a new (yet to be firmly validated) brain protein test that could find evidence of damage at the molecular level. It would be immediately useful to identify pre-PTSD sub-clinical injuries, or to validate the existence of full-blown Traumatic Brain Injury.
But more than that, it occurs to me, if this test can be perfected and its accuracy confirmed, and if it can be made widely available, it stands to change more than the fate of soldiers.
Imagine a future ruling based on evidence of unacceptable long-term cumulative injury that would ban such traditional American institutions as full contact football, or European and world-wide soccer from the practice of heading the ball?
Knowing this, we made no progress with our attempts to convince our soccer-playing grand daughter to use her head: and DON’T use her head. Maybe you’ll have better luck with the heads of your household.
- What happens after traumatic brain injury occurs? (esciencenews.com)
- Spate of head injuries among pros concerns parents of young football players (seattletimes.nwsource.com)