The NFL is becoming more competitive every year. Players are under increasing pressure to perform at their best, to keep going even when they “get their bell rung,” otherwise known as sustaining a concussion (traumatic brain injury, or TBI). If they leave the game, it may cost them their job. The game isn’t what it was thirty or even ten years ago. Players are bigger, stronger and faster now, and with that come BIG HITS to the head and body. With impacts that are equivalent to being involved in a 30 mph head-on accident, they can cause severe trauma to the brain, the brainstem and the spinal cord, leaving the player confused and dazed. In a case like this, the brain has been damaged significantly and needs immediate attention. But there’s help out there: our NFL Hyperbaric Outreach Program
Protective football equipment has changed over the years along with the demands of the increasingly dangerous game, but there’s little that can be done to protect the brain, the brainstem or the spinal cord. A fiberglass helmet, a facemask and one to three inches of air padding only provide protection for the skull and the outer surface of the face and limited protection for the brain.
How is that so? Closed head trauma, aka TBI, occurs when the head takes a blow and the force causes the brain to slam back and forth against the inside of the skull. Think of your brain and skull like jello in a bowl. If you bang on the side of the bowl, you’ll see ripples going through the jello. In the brain, that would be minor damage called “micro trauma.” If you drop the bowl, there will be significant damage to the jello texture. In the brain, this would be called “macro trauma,” and it’s what happens when you get hit in the head. The force of the blow causes whiplash and forces the spinal cord and the brain to slam against the sides of the skull, causing brainstem and spinal cord trauma. The base of the inside of the skull is made up of rough bony structures that can rub against and damage delicate brain tissue. In the context of a football season, when brain tissue can come into contact with those structures thousands of times, significant damage can be caused to the brain, the brainstem and the spinal cord. This is known as “repetitive trauma.”
Brain injury is associated with acute swelling that impairs blood flow, healing, learning (neuroplasticity) and function, leaving the patient with many symptoms.
Common Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
- Loss of sense of time
- Abnormal vision or hearing
- Inability to concentrate
Brain damage is a “silent killer.” A player experiences repetitive traumas to the brain over the course of a career, and this leads to a slow degeneration of functions and an increase in symptoms. Most times, players aren’t even aware that they’ve damaged their brains and keep going, damaging more and more nerve tissue. Our neuronal cells heal slowly if at all, depending on the extent of the damage, and as the damage accumulates, the symptoms become worse, leaving players in pain, confused and helpless.
How We Can Help with the NFL Hyperbaric Outreach Program
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been proven to heal the brain. Hyperbaric chambers use pressurized air and oxygen, and this pressure dissolves oxygen directly in the plasma, flooding the brain, fluids and vital organs with oxygen. Oxygen is then able to help the brain and the body to heal and function better. A healthy brain leads to a healthy body, and that leads to a better life.
Thanks to decades of diligence, the NFL Players Association has hammered out the best benefits package in professional sports for member players. If you’re a current or former NFL player and have been diagnosed with or suspect you have a form of TBI or concussion, you may be eligible for a FREE hyperbaric chamber through the NFL Hyperbaric Outreach Program. All you need to do is read and fill out the necessary forms and return all required information to Atlanta Hyperbaric Center and we do the rest.
The Atlanta Hyperbaric Center takes traumatic brain injuries seriously. We’re dedicated to helping NFL alumni to get the best care possible, and we’ve teamed up with NFLPA insurance carrier to make this happen. For more information, contact Dr. Louis Hilliard at AHC, 770-948-4511; look us up online at www.atlantahyperbariccenter.com/nfl-outreach-program/; or call NFL Player Benefits at (800) 638-3186.
The Atlanta Hyperbaric Center now accepts NFL HRA Insurance. We’ve also teamed up with the Curic Brain Center and Amen Clinics around the country to offer you the best service in your hyperbaric oxygen therapy needs counseling and visual brain scans. Call to meet with Dr. Louis Hilliard today if you suspect you may be suffering from a traumatic brain injury.