Are NFL Players using their Brains?


Why are NFL players more worried footballabout knee injuries than brain injuries? For most people, a brain injury or a concussion represents a more serious threat than a knee or shoulder injury. A traumatic brain injury interferes with the way the brain normally works. When nerve cells in the brain are damaged, they can no longer send information to each other in the normal way. This causes changes in a person’s behavior and abilities, which still affects an NFL player’s performance.

brainHowever, for 46 percent of NFL players, it’s the knee and shoulder injury that is more frightening.

According to USA Today’s survey, which covered 293 players on 20 NFL teams, almost half of the players say they are more concerned with immediate threats to their career, such as a knee or shoulder injury. Injuries such as these can put an end to an NFL player’s career, despite the fact that they can often be corrected by an orthopedic surgeon.

Despite the recent change in the NFL’s rules on hits to the head, the majority of players don’t feel any safer in regards to injury. In fact, some feel that more rules on hits to the head will just lead to more hits to the shoulders and knees. Brain injuries can have long­lasting effects, and the majority of the players are aware of that, but it doesn’t make a knee injury any more damaging to a player’s career.

Football is an immediate career, and most players are thinking of their livelihoods in that instant, and not their health 20 or 30 years down the road. Thus, the focus on protecting their limbs and joints as opposed to just their brains. But many medical professionals think it would be best to redirect this focus.

Dr. Armin Tehrany, of Manhattan Orthopedic Care, disagrees with most of the NFL players. Concussions are a life­threatening problem for everyone, especially for professional athletes. In 2013, there were 147 reported concussions, which averages to 10 per week. Head injuries are not immediately noticeable on the field, but can be a major problem later in life.

Our brains control everything from breathing to how we move and speak. Brain injuries can have long­lasting, detrimental effects to anyone’s quality of life, and everyone, including football players should be concerned about protecting their brains. A temporary injury should not be as big of a concern as a lifetime one, and concussions can often affect us for the rest of our lives.

It is understandable for players to be scared of the knee and shoulder injury, which can leave them off the field for a longer period of time. No one wants to get hurt and end their career. But, Dr. Tehrany, who’s done his fair share of knee and shoulder procedures, says that both knee and shoulder injuries can be repaired with procedures like arthroscopic surgery ­­ and with proper recovery, players can continue to play.

“While knee and shoulder injuries can be career­ending in the NFL, orthopedic surgeons can perform surgeries that can get most players back into the game,” said Dr. Tehrany. “Multiple concussions can not only be career ending, but affect a player’s entire future, and in some cases it can be life­ending.”