New Information About Sports Related Brain Injuries

By Ali Ingersoll

Published 04/03 2014 05:57PM

Updated 04/04 2014 10:04AM

Doctors are opening up about the severity of sports-related brain injuries and how certain sports need to change for the players' safety.

Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli revealed his findings today in front of a packed room inside the Pegula Ice Arena. He calls his presentation "Heads Up! Kids and Sports Related Brain Injuries." He says the way all athletes play sports needs to change.

"Concussion is for real. It's not a badge of honor; it's a significant injury," says Dr. Sebastianelli, the Director of Athletic Medicine at Penn State. "It's something that we're recognizing more but despite the recognition, there's still sort of a lot of resistance to make the right changes in the way games are played, the way they're coached, the way the equipment is. We need to put it together as a package. It can't all just be done based on recognition."

Sebastianelli says sometimes, athletes don't notify their coaches that they are suffering from concussion side effects and that is why they play through their injuries. He says, while the symptoms may go away in a week, it actually takes around 30 days to recover from a brain injury.  From his research, Sebastianelli says participants in boxing, football and rugby are most likely to suffer from sports-related brain injuries.

"It doesn't overly concern me while I am playing," says Kelsey Harris, a captain on Penn State's Women's Rugby team. "I've never had a concussion so I'm not that worried about it."

Harris says she has known a few friends who have had to quit playing their sports because they suffered so many concussions.

Sebastianelli says the major long-term effects from suffering from multiple concussions include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, poor academic performance, loss of balance and agility and chronic headaches and sensitivity to light. 

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