Sports Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury

by : Peter Kent



Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the head strikes or is stuck by an object. The head does not have to experience an external blow for the brain to be injured. Brain damage can occur when the head is pushed strongly against the skull, such as with whiplash.

A moderate type of TBI is called a concussion. People who have had concussions usually recover without any long term effects unless that person has already had repeated concussions. Severe and continual post-concussion symptoms may be caused by multiple brain injuries. A very serious and dangerous condition or even death can occur if a second concussion is suffered while symptoms from a previous concussion still persist. This condition is called second-impact syndrome (SIS). Sports-Related Concussions ' Causes and Frequency

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 300,000 people experience concussions each year from sports injuries. Most sports-related concussions come from contact sports, especially football, boxing, hockey, and martial arts. Other major causes of a large number of sports-related concussions are falls or collisions in sports such as skiing, bicycling, horseback riding, basketball, and soccer. In soccer an additional risk for concussions is "heading" the ball.

The most likely population to suffer concussions due to sports activities are males between the ages of 16 and 25. Within this group, the risk is highest at the high school level. About 25 percent of the 300,000 sports-related concussions reported each year are suffered by high school students playing contact sports. At the college level, over one third of football players has suffered a concussion and about 20 percent have had multiple concussions. Dangers of Multiple Concussions

Second-impact syndrome (SIS), which is a concussion that occurs while the victim is still recovering from an earlier concussion, has resulted in at least 26 deaths in the past 20 years since this condition was first characterized. Most of the people getting concussions were not even in college yet.

While most cases of SIS and multiple concussions do not cause death, the neuropsychological brain damage they cause is significant. Many studies have shown that athletes who have suffered multiple concussions are more likely to have prolonged learning difficulties and perform more poorly on neuropsychological tests compared to people who have had one concussion or no concussions. Some the well-documented neuropsychological impairments in athletes who have had multiple concussions are:

* Reduced speed in processing new information

* Problem solving and planning difficulties

* Increased number of headaches

* Concentration difficulties

* Memory impairments

* Behavioral problems

Why Athletes Suffer Multiple Concussions

Factors that contribute to why athletes suffer multiple concussions are related to the ability to accurately assess severity and recovery from symptoms. For example, there are several different scales for rating severity at the time of the concussion but there is general lack of agreement on which to use. There is also lack of agreement on what amount of time should pass before athletes can safely return to sports. This is because there are not any widely accepted guidelines for assessing whether the athlete has recovered. Preventing Traumatic Brain Injury

Using proper protective equipment can prevent many cases of concussion. For additional safety, a helmet or other form of suitable headgear should be used in sports where there is contact, or in sports where there is a risk of falling or crashing such as bicycling, horseback riding, or skiing. Custom fitted mouth pieces may also help prevent concussions in contact sports. In order for safety equipment to be effective, it should always be made sure that it fits well and that it is used solely for the purpose that it was meant to be used for.

Although the risk of concussion is inherent in sports participation, decisions as to what sport to participate in can help mitigate the risk of concussion. If you suffer from a brain injury received while playing a sport, you might like to contact an experienced TBI attorney. Your traumatic brain injury attorney can help you assess your potential TBI claim and help you get the compensation you deserve for the devastation incurred in traumatic brain injuries.