Sports Injuries: Accidents and Serious Harm While Playing Sports


Sports Injuries: Accidents and Serious Harm While Playing Sports

Concussions and traumatic brain injuries are often the first thing that comes to mind when discussing “sports injuries” these days; this is especially true with all the media coverage of the various lawsuits filed by NFL players along with college football players suffering permanent disabilities from repeated blows to the head.

There was even a big Hollywood movie on the subject starring Will Smith that opened on Christmas Day last year, did you see “Concussion”?

However, there are many dangers of serious injury and permanent harm to athletes playing sports on school campuses as well as on pro or semi-pro teams here in Indiana and Illinois as well as the rest of the country. Sports injuries can involve many kinds of accidents or unintentional bodily injuries with life-changing results.

What are Sport Injuries?

It’s not that easy to define “sports injury” right now.  The National Institute of Health explains:

Current sports injury reporting systems lack a common conceptual basis…. Regarding sports impairment sustained in isolated events, ‘sports injury‘ denotes the loss of bodily function or structure that is the object of observations in clinical examinations; ‘sports trauma‘ is defined as an immediate sensation of pain, discomfort or loss of functioning that is the object of athlete self-evaluations; and ‘sports incapacity‘ is the sidelining of an athlete because of a health evaluation made by a legitimate sports authority that is the object of time loss observations.

Correspondingly, sports impairment caused by excessive bouts of physical exercise is denoted as ‘sports disease‘ (overuse syndrome) when observed by health service professionals during clinical examinations, ‘sports illness‘ when observed by the athlete in self-evaluations, and ‘sports sickness‘ when recorded as time loss from sports participation by a sports body representative.

We propose a concerted development effort in this area that takes advantage of concurrent ontology management resources and involves the international sporting community in building terminology systems that have broad relevance.

Sports injuries can happen to young children as well as high school students, college kids, professional athletes, amateur sports enthusiasts, even senior players. Sports injuries can also occur in all sorts of sporting events: tennis players and golfers may suffer sports injuries as well as hockey players, basketball stars, and pro football players. There isn’t a sport being played that protects its players 100% from physical harm.

1. What do we know today?

One thing that is clear is sports injuries happen on the field of play (either during a game or during practice) and involve injury to one or more of the following:

  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Hand
  • Wrist
  • Hip
  • Thigh
  • Knee
  • Lower Leg
  • Foot
  • Ankle
  • Neck
  • Back
  • Head
  • Brain.

2. We also know that sports injuries have been a serious concern in the United States for a very long time.

According to the National Institute of Health, there has been a national sports injury problem in this country for many years. Researchers evaluate sport injuries from six perspectives: nature of sports injury; duration and nature of treatment; sporting time lost; working time lost; permanent damage; and monetary cost. Back in the 1990s, the NIH called for a national sports injury registration system, as well, so researchers can get accurate data on serious sports injuries across the country, in order to better develop ways to combat these accidents which are, of course, preventable accidents insofar as the decision to play the sport is voluntary. There’s still a movement to try and get this national system established today.

The Severity of Sports Injuries

Which means that no one really knows how widespread the problem of severe sports injuries — those causing permanent damage or even death — really is in the United States. It’s only now becoming apparent how serious one particular sports injury — concussions — are insofar as football players who have relied upon those football helmets to their detriment.

Doctors will tell you that most sports injuries are minor. WebMD, for instance, advises “weekend warriors” to be careful not to suffer from what they consider to be the “seven most common sports injuries” suffered by those playing sports:

1. Ankle sprain
2. Groin pull
3. Hamstring strain
4. Shin splints
5. Knee injury: ACL tear
6. Knee injury: Patellofemoral syndrome — injury resulting from the repetitive movement of your kneecap against your thigh bone
7. Tennis elbow (epicondylitis).

And it is true that many sports injuries are minor injuries to the body from which the patient can fully recover. But not all sports injuries are minor harms where rest and ice can pretty much solve the problem.

Life-Changing Sports Injuries

There are serious sports injuries that are suffered by professional athletes, weekend warriors, and most tragically children and young adults attending school or college, where they are faced with life-threatening challenges.

When these kinds of sports injuries happen to professional athletes, they make the news. The Bleacher Report, for instance, has compiled a list of the “25 Worst Career Ending Injuries in Sports,” describing sports injuries that happened during accidents on the field of play which were so serious that the athlete’s entire future was altered in a single moment. Perhaps you remember some of the events they’ve listed, like:

1. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Duante Culpepper’s severe knee injury where 75% of his major knee ligaments were injured during a 2005 game;
2. Great Britain soccer player Dean Ashton who suffered a broken ankle during a match in 2006, forcing his early retirement (and later liability lawsuit);
3. Hockey player Jeff Beukeboom whose life was permanently changed after one “sucker punch” in a hockey game that forced him into early retirement and a continued battle against post-concussion syndrome; After the incident, Beukeboom attempted to play again but he was plagued by headaches, memory loss, nausea and confusion. He was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and forced into retirement
4. Hockey player Cam Neely whose NHL life was cut short from a severe knee injury suffered in one quick moment in a single game, forcing him to retire from the sport in 1996;
5. NFL quarterback Joe Theismann’s infamous broken leg, suffered live on camera during Monday Night Football when the two bones in his right leg were snapped in two during a 1985 game against the Redskins, when linebacker Lawrence Taylor brought him down. (You may remember seeing that hit and the resulting injury to Theismann in a replay at the start of the movie, “The Blind Side.)

Sadly, while professional athletes do get media coverage when they are permanently harmed by a sports injury, these life-altering accidents occur much more often to younger players who have most of their lives ahead of them. Children and young adults suffering severe and permanent sports injuries are a real concern here in Indiana and Illinois, and competition among student athletes can sometimes result in tragic consequences.

More about how to help victims of sports injuries in our next post. Let’s be careful out there!

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