Wrestling: The Hidden Cause of Brain Injuries

two caucasian wrestlers wrestling men on isolated silhouette white backgroundEarly in the year, The Chicago Tribune posted a story online about, in part, a wrestler from Naperville’s North Central College, Connor Waugh. In that story, it was explained that Waugh had recently sustained the fifth concussion of his wrestling career. He told the reporter that he had headaches and sometimes felt “out of it.” Waugh went on to say, “[The concussions] have definitely affected me a lot — concentrating in class and stuff.” Waugh was beginning to wonder whether or not the damage he was sustaining was worth continuing with wrestling.

Sports such as soccer and football make the news with regards to their risks and potential dangers. Wrestling may be added to that list. A study showed that wrestlers in college have the highest rate of concussion in any sport. Studies looking at the rate of concussion in wrestling has raised questions as to just how these brain injuries are diagnosed and, ultimately, treated.

According to coaches and officials, wrestling has changed over the years. The focus now is not only on winning, but on protecting athletes. Some high-power moves have been barred from the mat and it is thought that more moves could be banned. Some are wondering just how much wrestling can change without impacting the true nature of the sport.

Jim Giunta, a member of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association, said, “In theory, you could say no more takedowns and guys would just wrestle on the ground. I guess you could do that, but it would be like saying no more tackling in football. It wouldn’t be football anymore.”

A study released in the American Journal of Sports Medicine used data provided by athletic trainers. The study looked at the data and estimated that, over a period of five years, wrestlers had suffered more concussions than athletes who participated in any other sport. Other studies had different findings. Skeptics say that the rate of concussions is not, in fact, as high as in other sports, and certainly doesn’t eclipse those numbers.

Why the disagreement? In the study released by the AJSM, the data was gleaned from a relatively small sample. In other cases, head injuries may go unreported. Athletes who experience a head injury may not report the injury, assuming that a headache is simply a natural risk of the sport and not a sign of something more serious, and don’t want to be taken out of competition.

No matter which side of the fence coaches and officials sit on, one thing is certain: Reducing the risk of concussions is something that needs to be studied and implemented. In cases where the risk cannot be reduced, the care provided to athletes needs to be improved. At the college level, changes have been put in place to address both of these needs.

Signs of a Concussion

A concussion is a blow to the head that disrupts normal brain function. No two concussions are the same. Such a brain injury can have a wide range of physical and psychological effects on the sufferer. Some of the signs and symptoms of a concussion are apparent immediately following the trauma, and other signs and symptoms may appear days or weeks after the initial injury.

The most common signs of a concussion include:

  • Neck pain and headaches that do not go away
  • Difficulty with concentration and memory
  • An inability to make decisions
  • Slowness in thinking and reacting
  • Becoming easily confused
  • Fatigue and lack of motivation
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness and loss of balance
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to external stimulation
  • Blurred vision
  • An inability to smell or taste
  • Ringing in the ears

Most people recover from a minor concussion without incident. It is still important to seek medical care if you think that a concussion may be the cause of any of the symptoms above. A concussion, though relatively minor, may lead to other serious conditions or signify a life-threatening issue in the brain.

If you have sustained a blow to the head, seek medical attention if you are able to do so. Even a headache should not be taken as “normal.” Any type of head trauma can cause serious and unseen injury to the brain that must be diagnosed and treated properly to prevent further issues.

While concussions are certainly common in sports, they are also sustained in car accidents, slips and falls and other types of incidents. If you have been involved in an accident in West Palm Beach and experienced injury, you may be legally able to seek compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages and more. Reach out to our team of experienced accident and brain trauma attorneys to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will review the details of your accident and advise you of your options. Call now or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.




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