Friday, August 5, 2016

Sports-Related Traumatic Brain Injury

We have all heard about sports-related traumatic brain injury in the news and on social media. It has gained a lot of attention lately. But what is a sports-related traumatic brain injury? Is it as serious as it sounds? Could you, or your child, be at risk?
A sports-related traumatic brain injury is any head injury that affects the brain due to a sports-related incident. Traumatic Brain Injuries, or TBI, are not necessarily those that only cause permanent, obvious injuries and effects. They can also be not-so-obvious injuries, like concussions. But these more “minor” injuries can have devastating consequences as well. In fact, they are quite common, so they deserve our attention.
What is a traumatic brain injury? What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs when someone takes a blow or hit to the head, falls, or otherwise causes enough force on their body that the brain moves within their skulls. Although the impact may leave behind visible signs, the concussion itself has no obvious externals symptoms of concussion.
Every year, an estimated 300,000 sports-related TBIs classified as a concussion, of mild to moderate severity, occur in the US [1].
One does not have to lose consciousness—or be “knocked out”—nor show other common signs, like forgetting what happened, in order to have a concussion [2].
Concussions are usually categorized as a mild traumatic brain injury, and as TBIs go, they are. But if careful measures are not taken, they can become serious, even fatal [3]. In fact, once someone has been concussed, they are at a higher risk of receiving a second concussion. If they occur within a short period of time, something known as second impact syndrome, can happen.
Second Impact Syndrome
Repeated mild traumatic brain injuries occurring over an extended period of time—months or years—can result in cumulative neurologic and cognitive deficits, which is serious on its own. But repeated mild TBIs, like concussions, that occur within a short period—hours, days, or weeks—can be catastrophic or even fatal. This is called second impact syndrome [4].
In October 1991, a 17-year-old high school football player, playing the last game of his high school career, struck his head on the ground during a tackle in the second quarter. During halftime, he told a teammate he felt ill, but failed to report his injury to a coach or adult. He stepped back onto the field once the whistle blew. After several routine tackles, and the accompanying blows to the head, he collapsed on the field. He was transported to a local hospital where he fell into a coma. CT scans revealed that he had swelling of the brain and a hematoma. He was transferred to a trauma center where they attempted to relieve the pressure on his brain. They were unsuccessful. Four days after what was supposed to be his last varsity game, he died.
He is not alone. In just the last six months of 2015, fourteen teenagers and children have died playing football [5]. And that is just one game and only in a six month period. The statistic doesn’t take into account a traumatic brain injury from baseball, soccer, gymnastics, wrestling, or the multitude of other high-impact, risky sports that our children play.
New Rules and Laws
With incidents as serious as someone’s child dropping dead while playing a game, many people have been pushing for new rules and new laws.
In May 2009, Washington State passed the Zackery Lystedt Law, what some consider to be the nation’s toughest “return-to-play” law. It requires medical clearance of youth athletes under the age of 18 suspected of sustaining a concussion before they can continue a game, practice, or training [6]. Some people consider the law to be too tough, but it is doubtful they are one of the many people who no longer have their child because of a football game.
All these young deaths have caught the attention of some of those in congress. Three representatives introduced The High School Football Safety Study Act in November 2015 recommending the CDC investigate youth sports-related traumatic brain injury and how to prevent it [7]. For now, there are some things you can do as a parent.
Your Child and Traumatic Brain Injury
>      Know the signs-
o   Vacant stare
o   Delayed verbal and motor responses
o   Confusion and inability to focus attention
o   Disorientation
o   Slurred or incoherent speech
o   Observable incoordination
o   Emotions out of proportion to circumstances
o   Trouble with memory
o   Any period of loss of consciousness 

>      Talk to you child- Under-reporting is one of the major reasons that traumatic brain injuries are so out of control in youth. Either athletes do not know the signs, or they do not want to disappoint anyone by not continuing. Talk to them about the dangers, signs, and importance of reporting.
>      Talk to the coach- Do not be afraid to ask the coach about what is being done in regards to TBIs, and what training they or the staff have received.
>      Do not let them play- If your child is hurt, or you fear they may be hurt, intervene. Second impact syndrome is serious.
>      Allow recovery- If your child does receive a TBI during a sports event, or for any other reason, allow ample time for them to recover and follow doctor’s instructions.  [8]

What to do next
Whether you, or your young athlete, have suffered a traumatic brain injury, second impact syndrome, or serious long-term conditions due to multiple brain injuries, you should always contact an experienced attorney with a thorough understanding of brain injuries and brain injury cases. At the Dolman Law Group, we know how substantially a brain injury can affect your life and we will fight to stand up for your rights to recovery. We offer free consultations and do not collect a fee unless you win your case. Please do not hesitate to call our office in Clearwater, Florida today at 727-451-6900.