The concussive episode, also known as brain injury, is very difficult to grasp for many people; the main reason being that there is nothing we can see outwardly, nor is there a “set” protocol. Take for example Chris Owusu the Stanford wide receiver who has a brief but intense history of concussions. Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated took a very good look at his case and the stigma surrounding concussions in football;
It is against that backdrop that Owusu is entering the NFL. One general manager says he has third-round talent, but gave him a seventh-round grade because of the concussions. Most executives view him as a value pick, meaning he has too much talent to pass on altogether but will only use a late-round selection on him.
Two neurosurgeons and a neurological psychologist recently told SI that there is not an A+B=C formula when it comes to past concussions and susceptibility to future concussions. Factors such as severity of the blow, recovery time and frequency of incident play a role in determining the likelihood of someone being predisposed to future concussions.
That is just one of the many questions surrounding concussions, especially with professional, adult athletes. It is true; a fully recovered concussion has not shown to be a factor for future concussions. However, a non-fully recovered concussion predisposes you to further injury at a greater rate. The fine line is finding when one is “fully recovered”. Any brain trauma and injury will also predispose one to long-term effects; just like breaking a finger will predispose one to having a greater risk of arthritis in that finger.
For Owusu the wait will be long and even if he is picked and signed he will have the threat of his past hanging over his head. Because no contract in guaranteed Owusu will have to weigh all of this if/when he sustains another brain injury. This is exactly the stigma of concussions:
- Speak up and lose my job, position, playing time, school all the while doing the right thing, or, keep quiet push through and not be seen as “weak” and risk greater damage to my brain.
It really should not be occurring, everyone needs to understand concussions and take the fear out of it;
“Did I put up a fight a couple of times to get back on the field? Yes, I did, because I love the game so much,” says Owusu. “When you get the game taken away from you like that, it’s something where it opens your eyes and it’s frustrating. I respect what the coaches and the doctors and the medical staff did for me here at Stanford, I really do. They looked out for my overall well-being and did not take any chances. But could I have played? I felt that I could have. Did they do what they felt was in my best interest? In their eyes, I think they did. But it was a frustrating process.”
Even more frustrating is the fact that had he been back out there relatively fast there is a good chance his NFL suitors would be much higher on him. The NFL should be much more “happy” with the fact that Stanford sat him for so long, not worried as they seem to be… Once again the stigma of concussions in full effect.