The Lasting Legacies of Concussion — or Not
(Excerpted from Surviving Martial Arts)
by C. M. Shifflett
Brain injury or its symptoms are often cause for disdain or
“Too many hits to the head.” Hee-hee-hee!
“Punch drunk.” Hee-hee-hee!
“Did your mother drop you on your head as a baby?”
To those who have suffered brain injury — or the
loss of friends or companions they once treasured, it’s no joke.
We don’t even have a model for what is
actually involved, or just how damaging head trauma can be. TV
and movie characters are regularly knocked unconscious and
dragged away to the closet or the dock. But within seconds the
James Bonds and the Mike Hammers, even a Mark Trail (knocked out by
the usual Bad Guys) and a Spiderman (knocked out by The Incredible Hulk)
are up and fully functional with nothing more than a brief headache and a colorful simile.
They are never blinded by the blow to
the visual cortex in back of the head.
They never suffer memory loss or changes in
mental or physical skills.
They aren’t downgraded in their duties.
They are never let go from their jobs.
And . . . they will do it all again next week.
In Real Life, head injuries can mean the
end of a career, critical skills, relationships, family ties,
and income. If you get back on the mat it may be with slowed
reaction time and even slowed relaxation time.
You won’t be able to respond or move or recover as quickly.
You won’t win.
And you may even lose your Day Job.
The Dumb Football Player, Punch Drunk
Boxer, Crazy Judoka are long-standing stereotypes which may be
based on chronic head injury. However, aside from boxing,
the martial arts do not necessarily pose a higher-than-normal
risk of head injury. Ordinary modern life offers endless
possibilities . . . Next