As people become more aware of the potentially devastating impact of children sustaining a traumatic brain injury during organized sports activities, many states are considering legislation and guidelines to reduce concussion injuries. This issue made national headlines recently, when University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow suffered a concussion last in a game against Kentucky, and then was cleared by medical doctors to play this past Saturday against LSU.
Much attention has been focused on college and professional football players. The New York Times published a piece about dementia and other memory-related diseases in retired NFL players, many of whom suffered concussions throughout their football career. The danger is also prevalent, and even more wide-spread, at the high school and elementary level. According to research done by the New York Times last year, 50 high school football players died from concussions between 1997 and 2007.
Many people have the wrong mentality concerning concussions: that they’re “no big deal.” Not true. A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a sudden, direct blow to the head. The blow can be the result of many things, such as a helmet-to-helmet hit, a severe car accident or severe fall.
People who suffer severe concussions can experience long-term effects, such as memory loss, slurred speech, loss of coordination, weakness or numbness in arms, legs or other parts of the body and epilepsy. Such long-term effects may require life-long care. A mild concussion can cause a small brain bleed which, if left untreated, can spread and cause permanent brain injury or death. If your child has suffered a concussion or traumatic brain injury as the result of someone else’s negligence, contact an experienced traumatic brain injury attorney today.
As Congress looks to hold hearings on the long-term effects of concussions on former NFL players, some states are also considering legislation. One state, Washington, recently passed a law that makes written consent from a licensed medical provider skilled in concussion evaluation mandatory before any player under the age of 18 suspected of sustaining a concussion can return to the sports field. In Illinois, however, such legislation is currently not under consideration.
Recognizing a need to educate high school football players, coaches, staff and parents on the symptoms and dangers of concussions, the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association and the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery created a pocket-sized “Concussion Reference Tool”. It lists concussion-warning signs, such as forgetfulness and loss of consciousness, symptoms an athlete may report such as nausea and memory problems, and a four question mental test.
The Concussion Reference Tool is not a comprehensive list of symptoms, and it is still important to seek medical attention for a concussion. A traumatic brain injury may be readily diagnosed through medical imaging, such as a CT Scan (“CAT scan”) or MRI. If a player is allowed to return too early, there is risk of what is called second impact syndrome.
Sudden impact syndrome occurs when another sudden blow is delivered to the head, or some part of the body that causes the head to jerk, before the first injury has fully healed. The brain swells rapidly, leading to unconsciousness, respiratory failure and death. Sudden impact syndrome is often fatal. To consult with a Chicago brain injury lawyer, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.