Will Smith’s portrayal of Dr. Bennet Omalu in the film Concussion has again sparked dialogue about the dangers of brain injuries, especially for young people playing contact sports in high school and college. Yet more than 100 million Americans gathered around big screen televisions throughout the nation on Sunday to watch historic Super Bowl 50, in which the Denver Broncos literally butted heads with the Carolina Panthers.
What’s the difference between a concussion and a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI)? Absolutely nothing, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And while “mild” may not sound very sinister, repeated traumatic brain injuries can lead to a lifetime of brain damage and debilitating mental health issues.
And while no one is suggesting stopping any and all contact sports or activities that pose potential injury risks, recognizing the danger of head injuries and striving to better understand and protect against them should be a goal everyone shares. Just check out some of the statistics below on concussions for high school and professional athletes.
BY THE NUMBERS
High school athletes suffer an estimated 300,000 sports-related concussions a year, according to a 2012 report in the American Journal of Sports Medicine
Forty-seven percent of all high school sports-related concussions are sustained by football players.
A 2009 NFL-funded study showed that former players suffered from memory-related diseases at a rate 19 times higher than the general population.