Aaron Rodgers - Three’s A Charm?

Jan 30, 2011 | Leslie Kollar | Health Musings
Aaron Rodgers - Three’s A Charm?

image by: All-Pro Reels

The National Institutes of Health has declared that we are in the midst of a "national epidemic" of concussions and head injuries involving both professional and amateur contact sports

For Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, three may not be a charm. With two concussions this football season, a third any time during the Super Bowl could put the QB on the bench for the remainder of the Bowl, and possibly end his career. That may sound dramatic, but just exactly how many concussions can one brain handle?

In the case of QB Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers, that magic number was 7 (at least 7 were diagnosed). And prior to the start of this season, Philadelphia Eagle Brian Westbrook was cut from the team because of multiple concussions suffered during his pro career. His subsequent interview with Dan Rather sheds light about concussions in the NFL and their long term effects on those who suffer from them.

The National Institutes of Health has declared that we are in the midst of a "national epidemic" of concussions and head injuries, and they are not just referring to NFL players, or even football exclusively for that matter, but this epidemic also includes the scores of youth involved in contact sports around the country. And our northern neigbour is also in turmoil over concussions and head shots in their national sport – the NHL.

In 2006, Chris Nowinski wrote a book called Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis which details his experience with concussions and talks of the impact of multiple concussions leading to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Studies by the Boston University of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Mass. suggest that patients who had been previously diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may have been afflicted instead with CTE. There is also some speculation the New York Yankee Lou Gehrig may not have died from ALS or Lou Gherig's Disease, but in fact may have suffered and died from CTE as a result of numerous concussions suffered while playing ball.

This season the NFL appointed neurosurgeons Dr. Richard Ellenbogen and Hunt Bajer to chair the league's Head, Neck and Spine Committee. It's true that not all hits result in a concussion, but to players making hundreds of thousands into the millions for a season of football, what's a $50,000 fine for a head rattling hit? According to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, "the NFL is going to continue to try to change the culture of the NFL with respect to helmet to helmet hits. Fines are one thing but throwing the yellow flag hurts the team".

To those watching the NFC Championship game, it appeared that Rodgers had indeed suffered his third concussion of the season after a helmet to helmet hit by Chicago Bear Julius Peppers. Rodgers shook it off and continued to play. How does Aaron Rodgers feel? After his last concussion he stated to the press "Head injuries are different than the standard extremity injury, because you're talking about the rest of your life and being able to function and have normal brain activity . . ." 

Not all players are concerned. They're big boys, making conscious decisions and know that there are risks. But if preliminary research continues to point toward the early onset of dementia, CTE and other major health risks with repeated hits to the head, they may think about it a little harder – that is, if they have any brain cells left.

Leslie Kollar has over 20 years of experience in the health care field in both the U.S. and Canada. She has worked professionally in medical offices and hospital administration, using her BA in Communications/Public Relations and MBA in Marketing. She has also seen the other side of the health care coin as a 15 year cancer survivor. As a survivor she is passionate that each and every person is and should be responsible for their own health - and with this passion she hopes to inspire, inform and educate through HealthWorldNet. Leslie can be reached at LK Communications [email protected]

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