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The Dark Side of the Gridiron: The Link Between Football and Brain Health

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Ayanna Amadi
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The Dark Side of the Gridiron: The Link Between Football and Brain Health

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As the anticipation for Super Bowl LVIII builds, we find ourselves at the intersection of entertainment and health, questioning the increasing popularity of football in light of its potential health consequences. Dr. A. Wise brought this issue to the forefront, raising concerns about the public's growing interest in football despite the risks associated with the sport. This prompts a critical examination of the reasons behind the surge in viewership and support for football, despite the evidence of its potential health consequences, particularly in relation to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

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The NFL's Response to CTE

Despite mounting evidence of the risks, the NFL is taking various measures to prevent concussions and protect players from CTE. These measures include changing rules, using data to improve helmets, and implementing new technologies. According to Scripps News, these efforts have resulted in a reduction in concussions. The league is also working on position-specific helmets and promoting the use of protective gear in practices. It's worth mentioning that the CDC reports that young tackle football athletes have a median of 378 head impacts in a season, which is 15 times more than flag football.

The Q Collar: A Protective Measure for Athletes

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One such technology that has caught the attention of many athletes, including Drue Tranquill and Omar González, is the Q Collar. This device is designed to protect athletes from brain damage in contact sports by reducing brain movement within the skull. Omar González shared his personal experience with head injuries and the positive impact of wearing the Q Collar in an interview. This highlights the growing need for greater protections for athletes and the improved understanding of brain damage in recent years.

Alarming Findings

However, a recent study reveals alarming changes in the brain tissue of young football players, emphasising the sport's inherent risks and the NFL's so far inadequate response to former players suffering from CTE. The study unveils that even high school football players display striking changes in brain tissue, changes previously associated with middle-aged individuals. This groundbreaking research by Boston University has established a link between cognitive and behavioral symptoms and CTE, a neurodegenerative disease linked to high-contact sports, including American football.

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Looking Ahead: Super Bowl LVIII

As Super Bowl LVIII nears, the NFL's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Sills, is gearing up with safety protocols at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The importance of player safety and health consciousness is more crucial than ever, with increased understanding and awareness of the associated risks.

As the world gears up to spend an average of $86 on food, beverages, decor, and apparel this Super Bowl Sunday, it's time to reassess our support for a sport that carries such inherent risks. There are growing conversations within sport about long-term effects of repeated impacts and the legal cases outlining brain injuries sustained during athletes' careers. These discussions underline the responsibility to take care of athletes' long-term health and the need for more education and awareness among players and viewers alike.

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