All sports, professional or not, have their problems with injuries and head injuries. The latter showing long-term effects on athletes that sustain head trauma. Why then do those at the top of the league namely Gary Bettman continue to deny that recent scientific findings say that the side effects of any head injury particularly concussions can be a life long battle. Many believe there are direct ties between head injuries and long-term . That’s what we will examine; all the evidence laid out so that conclusions may be drawn.
The Problem with NHL Head Injures
Before we get into the data, let us start with two players own tales of concussions. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and captain of the Colorado Avalanche, Gabriel Landeskog. These are only two players who have stories about their personal experience with head injuries. From Crosby, we have a lengthy recovery story in which we see that concussions are still sort of a mystery, too much of the medical and sports community. Crosby said in an interview with the Toronto Globe
“Concussions are still kind of a mysterious thing. We do know a lot more now, but there are still things that we can learn and hopefully ways and methods we can learn to either heal or to find out more about the actual extent of the injuries,”
Landeskog said something very similar to Crosby, that helps us get the bigger picture on concussions in the NHL.
Subconsciously, you know after taking that hard of a hit that something must be wrong with your head. There’s just no way your brain comes away from that kind of collision unscathed. But in the moment, my head felt fine. I didn’t have any immediate concussion symptoms.
That’s the tricky thing about concussions and head injuries in general, you might not feel the effects of it right away. But your brain is still hurt. In fact, it’s been shown that people may look fine even if they feel different. Because you can’t see a head injury it’s difficult to pinpoint how to treat the injury.
There are countless others throughout the NHL and the other professional sports. Both Crosby and Landeskog have talked about a few of the remaining side effects of the vulnerability of a secondary injury. They also both discuss the common signs of a concussion including sensitivity to light and headaches.
In my own personal experience with concussions, detail. I have had two concussions in my life both in the span of 6 moths. One from a bike wreck (wear your helmet kids) and the second from a basketball injury. Like Both Landeskog and Crosby ,I still have some residual effects including sensitive to loud noises and bright lights. Anyone who has suffered any form of head injury can relate to some if not all the experiences that both Landeskog and Crosby went through.
What can be done about the leagues’attitude towards concussions? Well, we need to change the overall attitude of the way head injuries are viewed. As Landeskog said in his article for Player Tribune:
“Unlike broken bones, concussions are invisible, and that means that everyone in the hockey community needs to unite and redefine what we mean by toughness and warrior mentality.”
It’s about how these non-visible injuries are regarded by the fans and by the teams themselves. Concussions aren’t something you can gauge on how serious they are; you cannot put a timetable on the recovery period. That is something that everyone needs to understand if a player suffers a head injury you can’t just tape it up and play on. Some might say while it’s the responsibility of the player to know what’s wrong. Concussions disorientate your judgment ability it should be on the player’s teammates, coaches, and team doctors to establish if a player is ready to come back. After all, nothing is more important than long-term health and well-being of players.
The League’s outdated approach is now getting the attention of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who said:
“Common sense and mounting scientific evidence show there are warning signs and clear links between brain trauma and concussions and degenerate neurological disease later in life, including CTE,” Blumenthal said Monday, according to comments published by the Hartford Courant.
“I’m here to call on the NHL to be on the right side of history and health and to show a sustained and serious care for their players in addressing this problem.”
Despite this, Gary Bettman continues to avoid the issue, and responded with a letter re-affirming his position.
“As it is, to this day — let alone prior to the start of the NHL/NHLPA Concussion Program in 1997 — no medical study has ever concluded that concussions suffered by players who have played hockey at the NHL level can or do cause degenerative ‘brain diseases,”’ Bettman wrote.