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The pass down the middle is perfect, hitting the receiver in mid stride. He turns to go up field, when he's slammed by a 250-pound linebacker.
The crowd goes nuts and the play-by-play announcer shouts about the hit heard inside the booth. But, the stadium goes quiet when the player doesn't get up.
The next day, you hear the news: the receiver suffered a concussion. But, what exactly is a concussion?
It's a brain injury caused by a blow to the head. It results in the temporary loss of normal brain function. Concussions vary in severity and may involve the loss of consciousness.
Most people don't realize the brain is soft and floats inside the skull, cushioned by spinal fluid. That's why the impact of a tackle can cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull and bruise.
Depending on the severity of the blow, there can be torn blood vessels and damaged nerve fibers. If the concussion is severe, the brain can swell and compress against the skull, cutting off blood flow to parts of the brain.
Experts emphasize, although some concussions are less serious than others, there is no such thing as a minor concussion.
In most cases, a single concussion should not cause permanent damage. A second concussion soon after the first, however, does not have to be severe to be deadly or permanently disabling.
Ted Johnson, the former Patriots linebacker suffers from depression and early Alzheimer's. He's only 34. Another player, Justin Strzelczyk (STRELL-zick), who died in a car crash, had a brain that resembled boxers with dementia.
So, the next time you see a bone crushing tackle, and start to cheer, think about the player who took the hit. Shaking off a concussion and re-entering the game is not a risk they should take.
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