Any type of sports comes with the risk of injury; however, football, being a high-impact sport, has the highest risk of injury. Obviously, football and injuries go hand-in-hand. With all the tackling, blocking and other physical interactions between players, post-game recaps would always include a list of casualties and injuries, including contusions and concussions or injuries that range from minor, but bothersome to severe and debilitating.
The most common football injuries include:
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries – This knee injury, which is due to damage or tear to the anterior cruciate ligament occurs when a player is struck from the front or rear;
Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) injuries – This knee injury is a result of forceful impact to the side of the knee.
Torn meniscus – Another knee injury wherein the meniscus (a thin fibrous cartilage or the firm, whitish, flexible connective tissue between the surfaces of some joints) is torn. This occurs when a player rotates his body while his foot stays planted on the ground.
Ankle sprains and strains – This is probably the most common sports injury. The soft tissues of the ankles are susceptible to damage when players pivot, change direction, or put too much pressure on the ankle joint.
Muscle contusions – This is a large, deep bruise affecting large muscles, usually in the thigh. This injury can impair muscle function.
Torn hamstrings – Players who are not conditioned or properly warmed up are prone to this injury, especially after a burst of speed.
Shoulder tendinitis – This is due to the repetitive motion of throwing.
Shoulder separation or dislocation – This is separation of the acromioclavicular joint due to direct blow below the shoulder; a dislocation, on the other hand, occurs when the head of the humerus separates from the scapula.
Though most injuries sustained by professional football players are musculoskeletal injuries, there are two other injuries that are more serious because they affect the brain: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and Concussion.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain. It can lead to memory loss, dementia and depression. Concussion, meanwhile, is “a change in mental state due to a traumatic impact. Not all those who suffer a concussion will lose consciousness. Some signs that a concussion has been sustained are headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, drowsiness, numbness/tingling, difficulty concentrating, and blurry vision. The athlete should return to play only when clearance is granted by a health care professional.”
In its website, the law firm Ali Mokaram shares two incidences where two NFL players suffered head injuries: “Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman suffered a serious blow to the head during the 1993 NFC Championship Game, in which a knee to the head eventually landed him in the hospital that evening. In 1994, Chicago Bears fullback Merrill Hodge retired from football completely following a blow to the head that, according to reports, left him unable to recognize his close family members, including his wife.”
The firm further says, “In the opinion of an increasing number of scientists, NFL players are paying the cost of such entertainment with their health and long-term well-being. Once their playing careers have ended, many NFL players find that the physical toll that playing professional football has taken on their bodies makes them unable to live a productive, healthy life. Some of these injuries include physical pain from broken bones and joint injuries, but increasing evidence shows that many professional athletes also have suffered degenerative brain disease from repeated concussions as a result of playing in the league.”