Playing sports where helmets are worn (football, hockey, etc.) means that players are going to suffer concussions and some of those players are going to die or be permanently injured as a result. This is a tragedy for any player, but it is especially sad when the victim is a child or teenager who faces living the rest of his or her life with permanent brain damage or who suffers an untimely death.
This month, the National Football League was ordered to mediate the claims filed against it by over 4200 player plaintiffs who are suing the NFL for brain injuries and permanent brain damage sustained by these former professional football players. The NFL has a pending motion to have the entire case dismissed, but the federal judge delayed ruling on that motion until September 3, 2013, ordering everyone to a negotiation table with a retired federal judge named Layn Phillips to serve as mediator.
More Public Awareness of the Dangers of Sports Concussions
The tragedy of so many professional football players being seriously injured or killed by traumatic brain injuries caused by concussions suffered on the field has had one good result: more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of playing contact sports where children or adults are prone to experience hits or jars to the head and neck. The effects of these blows, both major and minor, to the human brain over time can result in severe and permanent injury — often times, sports concussions cause harm that doesn’t reveal itself for years into the future.
Importantly, the news is spreading about the dangers of permanent brain injury to children and teenagers who are playing contact sports and suffering sports concussions with serious harm.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, any concussion is an injury to the brain and is a serious injury.
A concussion, the CDC explains, is a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) resulting from things that many may scoff as being minor things – from the CDC: “… [e]ven a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.”
Moreover, children and teenagers are much more likely to suffer a sports concussion TBI than adults, and their sports concussions are often more subtle than those sustained by adult players. What seems to be a mild or minor blow or jar to the head of a child or teen can result in permanent damage that alters their life forever.
- Each year, U.S. emergency departments (EDs) treat an estimated 173,285 sports- and recreation-related TBIs, including concussions, among children and adolescents, from birth to 19 years.
- During the last decade, ED visits for sports- and recreation-related TBIs, including concussions, among children and adolescents increased by 60%. Overall, the activities associated with the greatest number of TBI-related ED visits included bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer.
- National surveillance in 9 high school sports:
- TBI represents almost 9% of all injuries reported in the 9 sports
- Numbers and rates are highest in football (55,007; 0.47 per 1000 athlete exposures) and girl’s soccer (29,167; 0.36 per 1000 athlete exposures)
- A national survey of all sports- and recreation-related injuries among all ages demonstrates that 31% occurred in a sports facility and 20% in a school facility.
Response to Growing Public Awareness of the Dangers of TBI Sports Concussions to Children and Teenagers
As more people and parents learn of the real dangers of sports concussions, things are starting to happen. Lawsuits are being filed for those that have suffered injury, and preventative measures are being undertaken. For instance:
In response to growing public awareness of the dangers of playing football and other contact sports for their kids, many parents are reacting by pulling their children from school football teams.
Another response to the situation: a new type of safeguard is being sold for use by football players called the “Guardian Cap.” This is a padded cover placed over a helmet which is said to deflect the impact of hits to the head by up to a third.
New rules for playing contact sports where there is a risk of concussion are also being adopted. In Canada, for example, new medical guidelines have been released on how doctors are to deal with concussion injuries, focusing on minimizing the risk of “second-impact symptoms” which tell health care providers to prescribe as follows:
- No activity: complete rest
- Light exercise: walking, swimming, stationary cycling
- Sport-specific exercise, but no head-impact sports
- More vigorous, but non-contact training drills
- Full-contact practice: normal activities after medical clearance
- Return to full game play, including contact.
Protecting Children and Teenagers from TBI Sports Concussion Injuries
The more that is done to make people aware of the real danger of brain damage from what may appear to be a minor head injury, the better. Personal injury law firms that represent injury victims and their families see the results of TBI injuries and the life-altering results of these types of brain injuries – and they are serious and devastating. Anytime this sort of injury can be prevented is a good thing.
However, for those children and teenagers that do suffer a TBI brain concussion after playing football or hockey, the reality is that they may need long-term medical care and have long-term permanent medical needs. These victims may need to file claims and seek redress via the legal system, as those NFL players have done, in order to cover the tremendous cost of care that a permanent brain injury can entail.