Brain injuries: Be safe, be informed, be aware

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Tess Riecke, Staff Writer

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. The most common form of brain injury is a concussion. With an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports and activity-related concussions, there is an evident problem.

A concussion is caused by a blow to the head, a fall or any other injury that shakes the brain inside of the skull.

One common misconception about concussions is that the injured will pass out or have a lot of memory loss. Not everyone has these symptoms, which can make it difficult to determine a brain injury.

Some common symptoms are not being able to concentrate, nausea, headache, dizziness, a change in mood and a change in sleeping patterns.

After being diagnosed with a concussion, it is really important to watch the injured for any other serious signs. These include a worse headache, slurred speech, extreme drowsiness and loss of consciousness. If these symptoms are present, call 911 right away or get to an emergency room.

It is well known that football players are extremely prone to concussions. Recently, San Francisco 49ers linebacker, Chris Borland, retired at age 24 after only one season. The reason?

Repetitive head injuries.

According to ESPN, Borland told “Outside the lines” that he did this for his health and well-being. He also said that he doesn’t “think it’s worth the risk.”

Over 70 NFL football players, after death, have been diagnosed with progressive neurological disease which have been due to several concussions and brain trauma.

It is vitally important for any sports player to be cautious when it comes to head injuries. Multiple concussions can end a sporting career.

Another great way to protect your head is to always wear a helmet when biking, skateboarding or riding a motorcycle. I know sometimes it doesn’t look cool, but it beats having severe brain injuries.

Luckily, in the state of Nebraska, it is illegal to drive a motorcycle without a helmet. According to the CDC, helmet laws save eight times more lives per 100,000 motorcyclists than states without helmet laws.

Nebraska senator Dave Bloomfield wants to do away with the helmet laws stating that “the state is losing millions and millions of dollars in revenue,” because cyclists would rather bypass the state to avoid wearing helmets, according to KTIV. He also says that people should be able to “decide what to do to protect ourselves.”

By that logic, the seatbelt laws should also be done away with. If I don’t want to be safe and wear my seatbelt, then I shouldn’t get a ticket for not wearing it.

That sounds a bit stupid, right? We all know how much safer it is to drive with a seatbelt on and thoughts on helmet use should be the same.

As for biking and skateboarding, that is up to the participants ‘discretion. I was raised to always wear a helmet when I rode my bike because there is that potential of falling or getting hit and suffering a brain injury or death.

I will always protect my head because brain functionality could mean the difference between being dependent on someone for help for the rest of my life or being independent.

Athletes should talk to their trainers or coaches for any questions regarding concussions and brain injuries.

Everyone needs to take care of their heads.