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A Comparative: Two Distinct Athletes Perspective's on Concussion

Have you ever experienced a concussion?

If yes, you have come to the right place! It is our goal with this article to help you to become more aware of everything concussion-related.

Currently, in the United States of America (USA), one-third of all-female high school students are involved in sports ("About the USA>Sports>Women in Sports", 2009). As more females are gravitating towards athletics as a hobby or a profession, we believe it is our duty to raise some awareness about concussion-related facts that are associated with this increase in women in sports. 

Title: Percentage of girls who have played sports as of April 2019

                                   We have laced this article with the experiences of two athletes:                     Marques Ogden and Ciara Balanzá. 

Marques Ogden, former American football offensive tackle and center player. Marques is also a current business coach and consultant, who provided us with a glimpse of his concussion experiences. The former National Football League (NFL) athlete followed his brother’s footsteps into the football profession. His brother, Jonathan Ogden, is an offensive tackle player who holds a proud position in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

 

 

Ciara Balanzá is a high school student-athlete who participates in cross country and track Her passion for athletics brewed at a young age. Originally grounding her roots in soccer, she believes that every individual should try sports once in their lives. “It strengthens your endurance and provides you with the mental break you need when life gets a little hectic”, quotes Ciara. After participating in her first track event in grade 7, her fondness for sports strengthened. She enjoys competing and training for track events for inter-school competitions and hopes to continue to run it as a hobby. 

Title: Ciara Balanzá smiling wholeheartedly with the USA’s Women's National soccer coach, Jill Ellis

Statistics

A research study conducted proves that women are more prone to concussions compared to their male counterparts (Covassin, Swanik & Sachs, 2003). The study was conducted across different sports, namely, gymnastics, softball or baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer. The comparisons in concussion rates were tracked across different years. 

Concussion rates, categorized by gender, sport, and year

As depicted above, women experience a higher number of concussions in every sport, every year (Robson, 2020). It is interesting to also point out that despite the relatively low game exposure rates in comparison to their male counterparts, women still experienced a higher number of concussions. 

There is a certain degree of risk to concussions regardless of the sport an athlete chooses to engage in. For this reason, every athlete is required to take a baseline concussion test.

Baseline Concussion Tests

What are baseline concussion tests? This test was created to test an athlete’s overall proneness to concussive tendencies. This is done by evaluating the athlete’s brain functioning abilities and balance. In other words, attention and concentration spans are tested in addition to the athlete’s memory skills and ability to tackle problems. These tests are recommended to be administered initially before an athlete plays his or her first game and on a periodic basis thereafter. 

Marques contributes to this topic by mentioning how more of these tests need to be conducted for athletes. In his case, no baseline test was conducted at any time during his football career. After his retirement from the NFL, he had his first complete brain and body assessment at Tulane University, New Orleans, USA. Due to the lack of awareness surrounding such tests, Marques was not aware of the importance of his health. The assessment conducted at Tulane University resulted in Marques booking annual appointments with a doctor where he learned more about health and wellness. At these appointments, he learned that his ‘minor’ pains when playing at the NFL led to certain white dots being formed in his x-ray. Although these dots were not anything serious, he has become a lot more aware of his overall health and now actively engages in maintaining a good physical health state. 

Ciara, on the other hand, states that she takes the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT), which is a type of concussion baseline test, every two years. This test evaluates her reaction time, speed, and memory. She takes this test as her school mandatorily administers this for all its students. Due to the 2019 Coronavirus outbreak, she has had to take her last test remotely (via the internet). Other than this, Ciara was also part of a brief health class discussion that shed light on concussion relevance for athletes. 

Individuals of a soccer team completing their concussion baseline test

“Put me in Coach” Mentality

Often (more than what one would like to admit), when athletes are young and passionate about their game, they fall prey to side-stepping on their health. Disregarding symptoms an athlete would experience in order to steer clear of being benched is common and alarming. 

Throughout his NFL career, Marques suffered from three to four concussions. When experiencing the concussion, his return to play rate was short as he would get back up and continue playing the game. “At the time, I was not aware of what I was experiencing and the repercussions it could have on my health in the long-term if avoided, so I got back up and continued playing”, quotes Marques. The hardest-hitting concussion that Marques experienced lasted 24 to 48 hours for him and led to him having a hard time concentrating, feeling dazed, and having blurred vision. For a long time, Marques experienced headaches, which were scarily common for him. He also fell victim to experiencing a loss of appetite and sensitivity to light.

Words of Wisdom

From Marques’ point of view, every athlete he knows has experienced a concussion at least once. But this should not keep aspiring athletes away from the game. Regularly getting your health checked along with a healthy mindset can lead to anyone conquering the game. Marques states (in relation to football specifically), “Football is a team sport. There is no winning or losing. Respecting each other, getting health checks annually and tackling safely with your head up to avoid injuries is imperative”. 

Ciara believes that any sport comes with the risk of experiencing a concussion or some type of injury. Taking a baseline test is important, as it keeps the individual aware of their baseline cognitive abilities and aids experts in managing head trauma more precisely. 

Power of Patients: A Guide in Times of Distress

We, Power of Patients, wish to aid you with our resources in bettering your brain health. By merely creating an account on our website, you can track your daily brain injury symptoms and triggers, regardless of how minor they may seem, in order to track your brain health progress over a period of time. You can print out this brain journal and show it to a doctor so that they can easily pinpoint when a distressing experience began for you. This has been proven beneficial when meeting physicians. 

Additionally, we periodically publish tailor-made videos for you to ease you in navigating through the website and to update you on certain brain-related topics. 

Author: Leanne Rhea Martis

Editors: Lynne Becker and Hannah Burgess

 

Bibliography

About the USA>Sports>Women in Sports. (2009). Retrieved 1 October 2021, from https://usa.usembassy.de/sports-women.htm

Chhabra, A., MS, M., PA, D., & Foley, B. (2018). Baseline concussion testing keeps athletes' game ready - Global Sport Matters. Retrieved 1 October 2021, from https://globalsportmatters.com/health/2018/07/30/baseline-concussion-testing-keeps-athletes-game-ready/

Covassin, T., Swanik, C., & Sachs, M. (2003). Sex Differences and the Incidence of Concussions Among Collegiate Athletes. Retrieved 1 October 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC233178/

Evans, P. (2019). Marques Ogden Archives - Front Office Sports. Retrieved 1 October 2021, from https://frontofficesports.com/tag/marques-ogden/

Source: ("About the USA>Sports>Women in Sports", 2009)

Source: ("Share of girls playing sports in the U.S. by sport 2019 | Statista", 2019)

Title: Percentage of girls who have played sports as of April 2019 

Source: (Evans, 2019)