Football Season shouldn’t be the season for Traumatic Brain Injuries

football helmetIn the south, everyone loves football.  You have the Thursday night ESPN college game, high school games on Friday nights, the college games on Saturday, and we even watch our favorite pro teams on Sunday.

The recent billion dollar settlement by the NFL has brought the issue of concussions to forefront of all levels of football.  Concussions are nothing new for football players.  But the acknowledgement of the long lasting effects a concussion can have is something new.

A concussion is a blow to your head, neck or upper body that causes symptoms such as a headache, dizziness, nausea or loss of consciousness. Signs and symptoms of these injuries may not appear until hours or days after the injury. A medical professional may recommend brain imaging to determine whether the injury is severe and has caused bleeding or swelling in your skull.  A blow to the head can also cause a subdural hematoma, which is where there is bleeding between the brain and the skull.  Many experts agree that an acute subdural hematoma due to trauma is the most lethal of all head injuries.  A subdural hematoma also has a high mortality rate if they are not rapidly treated.

The milder concussions, though, are often overlooked.  Football players are coached by men who were often told by their coaches to “shake it off” when they got hurt and they pass along that advice to players today.  That attitude can lead to disaster because of something known as “Second Impact Syndrome”.

Second Impact Syndrome is especially prevalent in children and adolescents and occurs when someone has a concussion and then is reinjured while still suffering from the effects of the first concussion.  The second impact can often be very minor and does not even have to be a head injury for it to adversely affect the injured person.  Because the victim is still suffering from the initial concussion, any impact that causes the head to jerk can result in a severe traumatic brain injury, even something as simple as someone running into the victim, causing his head to move back and forth.

Because of the risks associated with second impact syndrome, it is very important to watch for signs of a concussion and insure that players that have a concussion do not play again until the concussion is completely healed.  Even if the player protests, caregivers, school administrators, and coaches should not allow them to continue playing sports until evaluated by a medical professional.

One factor that can also contribute to concussions is the helmet worn by the player.  All helmets should be re-manufactured on a regular basis by a certified re-manufacturer to insure the helmet meets the latest safety standards.  Coaches and administrators should insure that the players have quality safety equipment that fits properly.

If you or a loved one has a concussion, make sure the victim has fully recovered before engaging in any activity that can result in a second impact.  Training is available to coaches and caregivers.  For more information, you can contact the Alabama Head Injury Foundation at www.ahif.org.  If you are a caregiver for someone that has a traumatic brain injury and need support or information, the Brain Injury Resource Center has some great information as well.  www.headinjury.org.

Our firm has successfully represented the victims of a traumatic brain injury that resulted from a poorly manufactured football helmet and school administrators and coaches that failed to recognize the signs and symptoms of a concussion.

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