WELLNESS | The (Painful) Truth About Contact Sports
Never having been a paradigm for competitive athletics, the growing body of research on brain trauma and contact sports managed to skirt my interest until Jovan Belcher’s recent suicide brought it to my attention. Admittedly, I have always harbored a certain amount of envy for those select people to whom sports come so naturally, the super-sporty, the athletes. I run and do yoga, I would last about 30 seconds on a football field, and my natural instinct when I see a soccer ball flying at me is to drop lock and hope it doesn’t hit. While I slaved away applying to colleges and prayed that my AP classes and lost list of extra-curricular activities would get me into school somewhere, somehow, my sportier friends got courted into their schools of choice thanks in large part to their athletic prowess. This is not to say that they didn’t deserve to be there; on the contrary, the amount of time athletes put into sports matches the time that the rest of us put into the classroom (and often they have to do both) but recent links between sports and brain trauma beg the question: is it worth it?
“The Spectrum of Disease in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy” article published in the neurology journal Brain underlined the link between seemingly routine hits to the head and long-term brain damage in various contact sports like football and hockey. The possibility of seemingly normal head injuries turning into CTE, an incurable brain disease, is something that has come up repeatedly in recent years with the deaths of various NFL players. While the studies in no way point to such injuries as the sole or finite cause of CTE, the suggested correlation is worrisome. Homeopathic medicine like arnica, Hypericum, and Helleborus have been shown to help with head trauma, and other holistic approaches like craniosacral therapy have been proven helpful in the recovery process for injured athletes. But if the correlation between contact sports and head trauma is as high as the studies suggest, more preventative measures may need to be taken. If athletes are valued enough to merit scholarships and recruitment, they should be valued enough to be taken care of and protected from repeated head trauma that leads to long-term illness.
Do you agree?