Brain Injuries in Athletes

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Every year, about 1.6 million to 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries are diagnosed in sports players in the United States. Many of these are concussions that heal with rest away from the sports field. However, brain injuries in athletes can be extremely serious and cause permanent damage and even death. 

Many teens and younger players suffer from concussions. According to Brainline, children and teens make up about 70 percent of all sports-related concussions. A knock to the head can be very serious in a brain that is still developing. In Virginia and other states, stringent protocols and rules are in place to help athletes who suffer from head injuries. 

At the Smith Law Center, we provide legal representation to people who suffer head injures in auto accidents, industrial accidents, and athletes who are injured playing the game they love. When sports teams or schools fail to follow the rules they can be sued for the injuries suffered by athletes. 

What Types of Brain Injuries Do Athletes Suffer From? 

Common head and brain injuries sustained playing sports include: 

         •        Cerebral concussion,

         •        Diffuse brain injury,

         •        Subdural hematoma

         •        Second impact syndrome,

         •        Epidural hematoma.  

What Are the Signs of Concussions in Student-Athletes? 

Concussions are very common in high school athletes. They are associated with high impact sports like football, soccer, and ice hockey. A student-athlete may not always be knocked out to experience a concussion. A child who shows any sign of mental confusion or clouded thinking may have suffered from a concussion. 

Typical symptoms of a concussion sustained in a sports game include the following: 

         •        Forgetfulness

         •        Headaches

         •        The inability to concentrate

         •        Fatigue

         •        Dizziness. 

How Long Do the Symptoms of a Concussion Last? 

Athletes will usually suffer the symptoms of a concussion for no more than 10 days. Typically, the effects of the head injury do not last more than a month or two. 

However, some athletes suffer ongoing physical, mental, behavioral and emotional symptoms. These are referred to as post-concussion syndrome. Repeated concussions can cause second impact syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition if it’s not treated properly. A parent’s guide to concussions in young athletes is punished by Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sport’s Medicine. 

Is There a Link Between Concussions in Athletes and Suicides? 

In recent years, a little-known brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has made headlines. 

The disease was diagnosed in professional football players who suffered repeated blows to the head.  

CTE is a progressive brain disorder. It’s linked to dementia, serious depression, memory loss, emotional problems and a whole range of issues. Some athletes took their lives as they struggled to come to terms with CTE. 

They include Kosta Karageorge, a football player at Ohio State University who shot himself, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  

CTE is predominantly linked to football, boxing, and rugby. A study published in 2019 of a group of former professional athletes who experienced multiple concussions, found about half the group had higher than normal levels of a protein called tau in their cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spine.  

Virginia’s Policies to Prevent Brain Injuries in Athletes 

Virginia set up policies to address concussions and prevent brain injuries in athletes more than a decade ago. In 2019, House Bill 1930 introduced a new state law that requires Virginia schools to update their concussion policies and procedures biennially. Schools must detail training on concussion, policies such as how long student-athletes must wait after a concussion before returning to play, and other guidelines. 

In Virginia, state law requires that each student-athlete as well as his or her parent or guardian must review the policies of school divisions every year. After reviewing materials “describing the short- and long-term health effects of concussions,”  every student-athlete and the athlete’s parent or guardian must sign a statement acknowledging they received the information. 

The rules require that trainers, coaches or team physicians remove an athlete who suffers a concussion, a brain injury or a suspected concussion from the game or practice. 

 The athlete should be evaluated by an appropriate licensed health care provider as determined by the Board of Education and cannot return to play unless they have a written clearance from a licensed health care provider. 

Talk to a Hampton Injury Lawyer About Brain Injuries in Athletes 

The Smith Law Center has represented people who suffered traumatic brain injuries and concussions for decades. Attorney Stephen Smith, Esq., is an internationally-renowned expert in traumatic brain injury litigation. We will advise you of your rights if you suffer a brain injury whether on the sports field or the highway and hold parties responsible for your injury to account. Call us at 757.244.7000.