Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Using our Heads

It is nasty out this morning! We are getting the bad winter storm that has been going through most of the country. Here in the city, until we've had several days of really cold weather, winter storms usually just consist of heavy rain for us, and that's what we have today. Woody and I got a bit wet on the way to and from the gym this morning. I am thankful that my mind was clear enough at 5am to remember an extra pair of socks. Working out in wet socks is no fun.

This change in weather got me thinking of something - as people start running in the snow and ice and changing over to winter sports. As active people, all year round, we need to remember that accidents can happen. Don't get me wrong, I'm saying we need to worry every minute we're running in the park or playing a game with friends, but we do need to be aware of things around us and our teammates.

I can recall two incidents while on a regular training run in the park when I've seen someone sprawled out on the ground with a crowd of people around them. I presume that they passed out or had some other trouble, but because there were several people with them already, I didn't feel the need to stop and add to the crowd. I've also seen EMT's responding to bike accidents or runners who appear to have twisted an ankle. Whenever you're playing a team sport, there is always a chance of getting hurt. All I'm saying, is that we need to be careful and know what to do if something does happen.

If you're out running alone or out on a ski slope, it's important to have some form of identification on you, even if you don't have much else. If you have an injury or some sort of medical condition, you should make sure one of your teammates know. Little things that are so easy to do and can be so important.

My Grandfather was known around his neighborhood for riding his bike several miles every day well into his 70's. One day a neighbor found him on the ground, hurt. He had fallen (we think a car may have gotten too close and he swerved on the wet leaves after a rainfall) and ended up with a severe concussion. His helmet saved his life, but he was never the same again. I can not stress to anyone enough, how important it is to wear a helmet when you ride a bike. Okay, so I don't ride bikes, but helmets have saved so many lives and I think it's sad to see a kid out without one (even if it isn't cool). This past summer, NYC's city government provided free bike helmets to anyone who would stand in line during the Summer Street's program in August.

Just at the beginning of this month, the NFL released new guidelines for handling head injuries sustained by players during games and practices. In the past, a player could not return to the game if they lost consciousness. Now, Commissioner Goodell has declared that players can not return if they show certain symptoms such as forgetting plays, gaps in memories, dizziness or headaches. If they are removed from a game or practice until they show no signs either resting or exerting energy.

Additionally, teams must consult outside physicians and specialists to examine the player (I think everyone pretty much assumes team doctors will say what they need to in order to get the player back out on the field). The committee which created the new guidelines was made up of team doctors, outside medical experts, and the players association, are also encouraging the players to speak up when they're experiencing symptoms since many hide them to continue playing.

I think these changes are fantastic. It's important for the NFL to recognize how destructive head injuries can be, not only to the outcome of a game, but to a person's career and life. A life is so much more important than a number on a score board. Children and teenagers look up to professional athletes and athletic leagues and this is setting a good example to those younger players that they need to take things seriously, too. We also have the responsibility to be good role models to younger people, even if we don't have children, by being responsible and knowing how to handle tough situations. And we should just be careful for our own safety and enjoyment! Whether it's wearing a helmet or paying attention to icy patches, it's much more fun to be active with friends and family than to be sitting on the couch with an injury!


Julie said...

oooh good call on the extra pair of socks girl! i would have never remembered something like that at 5am haha. i can barely even remember my name!

i totally agree with you about head injuries in the nfl. they need to be taken serious!

Confessions From A Working Mom said...

On the NFL... my husband was knocked out of college football due to a catastrophic knee injury. It still affects him to this day, and it destroyed his dreams of playing pro. To this day, though, we are both so thankful that it was only his knee that was hurt... and not something more crucial.