Sam Burnham, Curator
During the off-season we’re gonna talk about issues surrounding the game. We may discuss some historical stories as well.
I want to focus this article on the issues of TBI, CTE, and other injuries that are related to football. Concussions are typical as are tears in the tissues of knees. We’ve seen great strides made over the years in the treatment of knee injuries, including surgeries, rehabilitation, and physical therapy.
With colleges and universities raking in millions on the sport, they have a lot on the line for the sport’s survival. I’d hope this article wouldn’t be necessary. I would hope they would be stumbling over themselves to address the issue. It works for all injuries but it is coming to a head over CTE.
ESPN’s coverage of the somber anniversary of Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski is probably the most recent on the issue. The 21 year old’s suicide has been connected to CTE. This follows a pattern of former players who had similar deaths, including NFL star Junior Seau.
Schools are fielding teams and are employing trained and certified athletic trainers to provide critical medical care to student athletes. This trade is passed down through a training staff that includes students who work along professional trainers to gain practical experience to accompany their work in the classroom. This is imperative to the survival of the sport.
Schools also have staffs of equipment managers managers who bear the responsibility of issuing the needed equipment thereby each player has all the correct protective equipment and that it is fitted properly.
These two staffs need the right knowledge, tools, and equipment if football has a future.
Here’s where colleges need to step up more.
Where do doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists, therapists, engineers, practically everyone who can have an impact on injury prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery get their education and training? That’s right, at our colleges and universities. They are sitting on all the resources they need. Schools of medicine, science, and engineering located at our major research institutions have the patients on campus, they have the knowledge to begin to study this problem, not with lip service but with actual work. They have the researchers, the professionals who can deliver treatment. Every piece of the puzzle is on campus.
Schools could partner together to work on the issue. Smaller schools may not have all the components, even a larger school might be better equipped to address medical or engineering, but not both. But collaborating with a school that can offer the missing pieces could advance the cause. Perhaps if the ACC, SEC, Big 10, PAC 12, or Big 12 worked on this with their member institutions the pieces could be assembled.
While such an an effort could rescue football, it also would advance treatment and even prevention of TBI in the general population. This has ramifications for industry, transportation, and other categories. And any progress would be thanks to our favorite sport and the efforts to make sure it will be around for generations to come.
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