Head Trouble

Head injuries are a serious concern for many. It goes without saying that such an injury presents its own challenges and effects. How do they occur? Well… in a surprising variety of ways, that’s for sure? In sport, head injuries are commonplace. American Football is a prime candidate with such trauma being extremely likely, so much so that helmets are a compulsory protective item. Conversely, since the introduction of helmets in American Football, incidents of head trauma and severity of injury has increased. What’s more, this trend leads advances in helmet technology. Put simply, the helmets get tougher but the hits get even harder.

The argument for increased head protection is beyond the scope of this post… but we would argue that concussive injuries would effectively by mitigated with a few simple rule changes. However, the powers that be may not allow such changes as they are likely due to ‘ruin’ the entertainment value of the sport.

Boxing is another area of sport where concussion is common. In fact, repeated concussion is a very real danger for the vast majority of professional fighters. Repeated strikes to the head, resulting in jolting of the neck, result in the brain’s movement within the skull. Repeated collisions between the soft, jelly-like constitution of the brain against the hard shell of the skull easily results in damage and swelling. At best, concussion will result in a headache — at worst, fighters will be ‘knocked out’, losing conciousness, which in some cases can result in death.

The real problem with repeated concussion is the chronic issues it creates. Anyone who is familiar with boxing will have heard of Mohamed Ali. Thos who are will understand the difference between the young, fit and able Mohamed… compared to the frail, shaking old man before he died. The repeated head injuries he sustained over his fighting career resulted in such head trauma that Mohammed began losing motor control from his early thirties. Conversely, this is one of the less severe cases. Gerald Mcclellan was once one of the most promising boxers of his generation. Going undefeated into a fight against an ageing Nigel Ben, Mcclellan was knocked out, much to everyone’s surprise.

Gerald’s knockout was different though. The referee completed his count, before doctors rushed to his aid. Medical professionals were unable to bring him round and he was rushed to hospital where doctors operated to remove pressure from his brain. Gerald survived the operation and indeed remained in very good physical condition, with a few crucial exceptions.

He lost years of long-term memory. He was only able to remember his life up to a year before the fight. His short-term memory was also exceptionally short, lacking the ability to keep new events stored in memory, effectively forcing him to live in the present with no capacity to remember what he did an hour ago.

This is one of the most severe effects of brain damage caused by massive concussion — therefore it is clear how dangerous it can be.