Approximately 300,000 people in the U.S. receive concussions from sports injuries each year. About 25 percent of these concussions are suffered by high school students involved in contact sports. Over one third of college football players have had a concussion and about 20 percent have suffered multiple concussions.
The likeliest demographic to receive a sports-related concussion is males between the ages of 16 and 25. Most suffer concussions while involved in contact sports, particularly football, hockey, boxing and martial arts. Other major causes of sports-related concussions include collisions and falling while skiing, horseback riding, bicycling, basketball, and soccer.
Most people who have received a concussion, which is a mild form for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), recover without long-term effects unless they experience multiple concussions. A second concussion while symptoms of the first have not subsided can result in a dangerous condition known as Second-Impact Syndrome (SIS). And even if someone recovers from his or her symptoms between concussions, the cumulative effect of multiple concussions can result in more severe and prolonged symptoms.
Multiple brain concussions, including SIS, can cause significant neuropsychological brain damage. SIS has resulted in more than 26 fatalities in the last 20 years, mostly by high school students. Athletes who’ve suffered multiple concussions are likelier to have protracted learning difficulties and tend to perform less adequately on neuropsychological tests than those with a single or no concussions. Neuropsychological deficiencies in athletes with multiple concussions may include:
- Processing new information more slowly
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulties with memory
- Behavioral problems
In a better-known recent case, Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist at the University of Pittsburgh, concluded that Andre Waters, a former NFL star, was likely suffering from the effects of successive concussions when he killed himself while in a sustained depression. Dr. Omalu determined that Mr. Waters’ brain tissue had deteriorated to where it had similar characteristics as that of an 85-year old man’s brain tissue in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
While using proper protective equipment while participating in contact sports can prevent concussions, Mr. Waters’ and similar cases have brought into question whether athletes should be sent back into play after experiencing a concussion. There is a general lack of agreement, however, with regard to how much time should elapse before athletes can safely return to sports. There are no widely accepted guidelines to assess whether an athlete has recovered from a concussion. There is also a multitude of scales for rating the severity of a concussion, most taking different symptoms into account.
This lack of agreement, however, should not prevent you from contacting an experienced TBI attorney if you suspect that you or a loved one may have experienced a brain injury while playing a sport. A TBI attorney can provide guidance and help you assess whether you have a valid claim for compensation.
Please email or call us today to speak with an experienced TBI attorney.