Lions’ Rashean Mathis wonders if concussions should be called brain injuries to convey their seriousness (Shutdown Corner)

One of the longstanding issues with concussions in the NFL is how they’ve been perceived. It isn’t unusual to hear a player say he got “dinged” when they suffered a concussion during a game, terminology that lessens the seriousness of what actually happened. But at least one player opened the debate about whether concussions should be called what they really are: brain injuries. Lions’ veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis was placed on injured reserve by the team last week after suffering a concussion on Oct. 25 against Minnesota. He dealt with “brief headaches” for three weeks after the injury, and when they did not subside, the decision was made to end his season. The Detroit Free Press referred to Mathis having a brain injury in its initial story about his move to IR, prompting Mathis’ mother to call him in tears . Brain injury sounds far more serious than concussion, though a concussion is in fact an injury to the all-important brain. “I had to address it, being the concern that was coming at me with my family, as well,” Mathis said. “Should the term be changed? Maybe so. I guess as the NFL, they might not like it if we do start addressing it as a brain injury, so therefore, that’s a different topic. But a light bulb goes off when someone says ‘brain injury’ in reference to concussion.” Given that the NFL has spent years, and millions of dollars,  denying that there is a link between repeated concussions and the issues many of its players have had after retiring, it’s a safe bet that it wouldn’t want them called brain injuries.  “…That term has never been linked or driven an article, a brain injury. It’s always been concussion, so when they say ‘brain injury,’ as a public, you would think, ‘OK, something else is going on'” Mathis said. “And that’s what happened. So the responses that my family responded to that, thinking that something was terribly wrong, it wasn’t good to hear.” Like his mother, Mathis’ brother and others believed there was something more serious going on than what the 35-year old had told them because of the Free Press using “brain injury.” He stressed to reporters, however, that he had not suffered any memory loss or some of the more serious symptoms some suffer with concussion, and his headaches have subsided. [ Yahoo Daily Fantasy: $10 could win you $50K in our $350K contest for Week 11 ] “I just wanted to publicly say it’s a concussion — technically, a brain injury — but I’m not going brain dead,” Mathis said. “And that is for my family and my friends. And the fans who were concerned, as well. Like I said, that’s one of the reasons why I’m standing in front of you today.” Mathis has a year left on his contract, but said he will have talks with his family about whether he’ll return for another season; he will turn 36 during training camp next year.  He chatted with reporters as a way of letting everyone who was concerned that he is doing better, and reinforced that calling concussions brain injuries is worth doing. “If that’s the term, I’m OK with that term,” Mathis said. “I just had to address my family because I can’t talk to everyone. I can’t talk to all my friends and family, so I had to address them. So if that’s a term that’s going to be used, I think it should be used, because it takes on a new life when you actually use that term.”

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