The 8 Worst Concussions in Sports
Head trauma has long been a leading cause of serious injury across a wide range of professional contact sports, besides among college, high school, and amateur sports players.
Concussions are a variety of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that often occurs when sports participants accidentally knock heads, receive an elbow, knee, or foot impact to their head, receive too many direct head blows in boxing, collide head-first with the ground or a stationery object, or otherwise suffer from sudden, forceful head trauma. A single major concussion or a long series of smaller concussions in sports events can be career-ending and may lead to chronic severe headaches, nervous system damage, depression, suicidal thoughts, violent/erratic behaviors, and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which can only be successfully diagnosed after death.
The complete list of high-profile concussions in sports would be long indeed, but here we offer a glimpse at some of the worst and most well-known sports-related concussion incidents:
- Trevor Berbick, was rattled by Mike Tyson's fists in the 1986 WBC heavyweight championship match. Berbick had KO-ed 23 others before being KO-ed himself in only the 2nd round — and the head trauma he suffered was visibly evident to all.
- Nick Kypreos, of the New York Rangers, collided with teammate Ryan Vandenbussche on the ice and soon saw his 10-year career come to a halt due to post-concussion syndrome.
- Jeff Beukeboom, after 15 years in the NHL, was "sucker punched" by the Kings' Matt Johnson in 1998 and was never the same again. For a time, he tried to play through the migraines, disorientation, and memory loss, but finally was forced into early retirement.
- Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers suffered near-constant concussions throughout his Hall-of-Fame career. In 1999, after sustaining the 8th major head injury of his NFL career, he announced his retirement.
- Ray Easterling, former Atlanta Falcons safety, in 2011, led some 4,500 other former/current NFL players in a lawsuit against the league for "deception and denial" in regard to players playing with concussions and ultimately suffering dementia, Alzheimer's, and other memory-loss diseases. Easterling ultimately committed suicide and was diagnosed postmortem with CTE.
- George Smith, Australian rugby star, collided head-to-head with opposing player Richard Hibbard during the 2013 Lions Tour of Australia. Smith walked off the field in a daze but was back only minutes later. However, his severe head trauma was evident, and the incident showed the inadequacy of the league's precautionary measures regarding concussions.
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in 2012, suffered a major concussion when involved in a crash during NASCAR's Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500. This was in spite of NASCAR implementing additional helmet safety rules during the years leading up to the incident.
- Christoph Kramer, German soccer great, was accidentally kneed in the jawbone by Argentine player Ezequiel Garay in the 2014 World Cup. Kramer managed to play on for 31 more minutes but was ultimately seen shaking as he left the field due to an intense concussion.
Concussions in sports are far too common and quite often have severe, chronic effects. Many believe that they can simply "play through" concussions and ignore them until they correct themselves.
In reality, proactive concussion management is necessary to ensure correct diagnosis and scientifically valid rehabilitation strategies. Most sports have taken major steps towards minimizing the incidence/severity of concussion-related injuries, but when they do still occur, they should be treated without delay.
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