New Concussion Awareness Video Released As NFL Season Kicks Off
The American Academy of Neurology is working with the NFL Players Association to educate the league’s athletes on how to better take care of themselves in the event of a big hit or head injury.
Just in time for the kickoff of football season, the NFL Players Association teamed up with the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) to increase concussion safety awareness among the league’s athletes.
The two organizations produced an educational video on the subject, which was sent to every player in the league. It details facts about brain injury—and how to manage it—as well as highlights the NFL’s concussion protocols.
“You only get one brain,” said Terrence Cascino, AAN president, in a statement. “When it comes to concussion—we want all athletes at all levels to remember [the phrase] ‘when in doubt, check it out.’”
The video features experts and former players discussing brain injury. It also shows repeated clips of the extreme hits suffered on the field, the type of head-on collisions that have become controversial in the NFL in recent years. Officials released it ahead of the season’s kickoff.
“All of us as players would say that there was such a lack of education growing up surrounding concussions,” said former NFL player and Super Bowl veteran Ben Utecht in the video.
The video comes out as experts, pundits, and sports commentators speculate over the hits North Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton suffered during last week’s season opener against the Denver Broncos. Despite taking multiple shots to the head, medical officials decided Newton did not need to be checked for a concussion.
Under the NFL’s new guidelines, plays that leave a player potentially concussed are reviewed by a certified athletic trainer and an independent “neurotrauma” consultant. Teams that don’t follow the league’s guidelines can expect fines. Still, the organization has come under fire for its handling of concussions and resulting chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The new video encourages players to self-report any signs of concussion, like ringing in the ears. Doing so will prolong a playing career, experts said. Hiding injury or refusing to leave the playing field will only worsen the condition.
Players who let their medical staff know about their symptoms sooner will spend less time away from the game,” said Jeffrey Kutchner, MD, national director of the Sports Neurology Clinic and an advisor to NFLPA, in the video. “The sooner you tell us, the sooner you can get back on the field.”
Concern about concussions has spread beyond the NFL. High school athletes and the organizations that support them are increasingly bolstering education efforts and research. And it’s not just football. Sports like wrestling, snowboarding, basketball, and surfing can lead to the types of injuries that turn into CTE.
Regardless of what level the athlete is playing at, it’s a major concern, experts warned.
“This is really serious stuff,” said Thom Mayer, MD, NFLPA Medical Director. “This is your brain. This is your mind. This is you. Don’t risk you.”