Wrestling and Brain Injuries – What You Should Know

Last Updated: 23.08.19

 

 

If you are looking for headgear for wrestling purposes, then this is surely a very good approach since protecting your head in an intense sport is crucial. If you have any questions on what things you should be aware of before heading toward one of the wrestling mats, this article is here to give you a hand.

Unlike other contact sports, wrestling involves very specific moves that you need to learn and master for a successful career. However, it’s true that injuries do take place in matches and that you should be prepared for what is heading your way. If you’ve decided to give this sport a try, you shouldn’t be taken aback by the risks, but be aware of them in order to control their impact.

The head is one of the most exposed areas in wrestling, therefore there are some aspects you need to take into consideration, such as what types of head injuries are generally associated to sports and how to avoid them as much as possible while still paving your way toward success.

 

Concussions

Cerebral concussions can affect athletes in various sports, not only wrestling, whether these are contact or non-contact ones. A concussion is actually a diffuse brain injury that can be the results of trauma and can lead to alterations of the patient’s mental status.

This type of injury is caused by the brain being shaken within the skull. If severe, it can lead to other more damaging situations. One thing that can help determine what should be done next in case of a concussion is assessing its level and grading.

Specialized personnel can use things such as the presence or absence of consciousness, its duration, and even the duration of post-traumatic memory loss in order to do this. Of course, these are the more severe cases, other lighter symptoms that should still not be ignored including headache, lack of concentration, dizziness, and other similar ones.

A Standardized Assessment of Concussion is also set in place for physicians and trainers to evaluate the mental status of an athlete, this including five-minute series of questions, as well as physical exercises. While this might not be the most comprehensive method, it can help in situations that need an immediate response.

Risks

If an athlete sustains a concussion, the bad news is that he or she runs a much higher risk (three to six times more likely) of sustaining another one. Of course, the best approach in any such situation is to give your body the necessary time to heal itself, while also taking all the precautions to protect from any further injuries.

It’s true that some athletes decide to return to the game a lot quicker than that, but this all depends on each individual’s personal choice and doing this before the concussion has healed does come with a lot of risks.

In the meantime, medical advancements have led to the development of computerized neuropsychological tests, but these have yet to be validated as fully reliable. They can be used as tools for medical diagnosis, as well as for gathering data on this phenomenon, but nothing beats time in order for an athlete to get back in the game.

 

Brain injury symptoms

When it comes to brain injury, there are certain symptoms that can hint at whether you are dealing with this issue or not. Pain is the most basic indicator that our bodies use and, in this case, a constant or recurring headache might mean it’s a good moment to run some medical investigations if you’ve recently suffered a head injury during a competition.

Other more serious symptoms can include motor dysfunctions, namely the inability to control and coordinate movements, as well as balance issues. Changes in sensory functions such as hearing, tasting, or seeing can also be a sign that you might need to go see a doctor.

Cognitive symptoms consist of a shortened attention span, getting easily distracted or overstimulated by various elements in the environment, as well as of having difficulties in following directions, feeling disoriented and confused.

 

The importance of having the right gear

You should always buy and use protective gear and helmets that are approved by all the legal entities for specific sports, including wrestling. They must meet quality and effectiveness standards and, most of the times, this is indicated by a sticker stating their compliance.

Moreover, since headgear and helmets come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and styles, you want to make sure that the one you choose fits your head very well and ensures maximum protection. Plus, you should always remember to wear the headgear all the times, since your safety is always a priority.

 

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

This scary-sounding condition is one you most probably will never have to deal with, but you should be aware that it exists among professional athletes. Also known as CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is actually a degenerative brain disease usually found in persons who have dealt with repetitive brain trauma, such as athletes or military veterans.

What happens is that following repeated exposure to this type of trauma, a protein called Tau starts forming clumps that can afterward spread throughout the brain, causing significant damage. Early symptoms appear years after the impacts, and the condition can affect a patient’s behavior and mood.

CTE impact

Some of the most common changes noticed are aggression, depression, control problems, or even paranoia. At is progresses, this disease can also cause problems such as memory loss, confusion, problems with thinking, and impaired judgment. If it gets to a more advanced state, it can also lead to dementia.

We know that this sounds pretty dreadful, but what you should know is that even though in some cases these symptoms worsen with time, in others they remain stable for years. Moreover, the disease is unlikely to install unless a person has sustained repeated head trauma over a period of years.

Of those diagnosed with CTE, most have suffered hundreds or even thousands of head impacts over time, either serving in the military or playing contact sports. According to the evidence gathered by experts in the field, CTE seems to be caused not by a single injury, but by a long series of them.

 

 

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