In recent years, articles about the long-term effects of concussions on our brains have appeared regularly in the news. We read about suicides and homelessness of young men who played football in college, and about severe brain-related illnesses such as ALS occurring in former professional players.
In August 2013, over 4,500 former football players reached a $765 million settlement agreement from the NFL that would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research.
As of February 2015, the specifics of how this action would be paid out was still in the courts.
Although the NFL does not admit to any wrongdoing, this action highlights the fact that long-term effects of concussions on the brains of those who play contact sports cannot be ignored.
What happens during a concussion?
Our brains are cushioned by a layer of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and by our skulls, which act like shields of armor.
However, when the body or the skull receives a very forceful impact, from being tackled playing football or from a car accident, for instance, the brain bangs around against the inside of the skull causing bruising, bleeding and swelling.