Part Two of a Two Part Article on Sports Related Traumatic Brain Injuries by
Angel Law, P.C..
In Part One, we reported that an estimated 300,000 sports-related
traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), mostly concussions, are reported in the United States every year. After
years of relative silence, this serious problem is now finally getting
In an original study entitled,
Concussions Among US High School and Collegiate Athletes, conducted by Ohio State University, an investigation into the source
of concussions was undertaken where a nationally representative sample
of high school athletes was compared to concussion rates among collegiate
athletes. In that study, it was found that one of the most common symptom
of a concussion reported by high school athletes was headaches followed
by confusion. While the study only observed one school year, 2005-2006,
it was found that at least 16% of high school athletes reported suffering
a concussion either that season or in a previous season. The article also
found that while collegiate concussion rates were higher than that of
high school rates, concussions comprised a greater proportion of total
injuries sustained by high school athletes. Additionally, it's somewhat
alarming that the Ohio study was based on athletes who
voluntarily reporting their concussions. One of survey questions asked athletes if
they have ever suffered a concussion and not reported it. Many had; only
47.3% of players claimed to have reported their concussion when it happened.
One useful conclusion which may help sports administrators going forward
was that athletic trainers are a primary means of early diagnose and treatment
of concussions whether high school or collegiate athletes.
The CDC has begun a
Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports initiative program the intent of which is to better inform the public about the dangers
and symptoms of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions. Another
helpful resource called the
Brain Injury Resource Center provides a great deal of information about prevention and education, including
a brain injury checklist, the purpose of which is self-assessment as well
as a helpful reference on topics you may want to talk about with your
doctor. Concussions are actually very complex physiologic events as opposed
to just bruises to the brain. With most common injuries such as broken
bones or torn ligaments, damage can be observed with a simple CT or MRI
scan. This is often not the case with TBIs and concussions. A concussion
is an injury that causes functional problems with or without structural
injuries. Sometimes a concussion simply cannot be seen. After a mild jolt
or blow to the head, the sudden shifting and movement of the skull may
cause the brain to make contact with the hard lining of your skull. This
may or may not cause your brain to experience tearing or stretching, which
causes damage to your brain cells. When these cells are damaged your brain
becomes more vulnerable to further injury and sensitive to any increased
stress until it fully recovers. Some of the common symptoms are headaches,
nausea or vomiting, emotional instability, difficulty concentrating and
or remembering new information, and or trouble falling asleep. It is important
to note that loss of consciousness is not required to have a concussion,
in fact, less than 10 percent of athletes with concussions are knocked
out. Studies have shown that the brain can take up to three weeks before
it regains normal function. Unfortunately, studies have also shown that
young athletes, especially teenagers, appear to be more prone to a second
injury to the brain while it is healing form an initial concussion. This
is referred to as Secondary Impact Syndrome.
Within a few days to a few weeks following a concussion an individual becomes
vulnerable to additional trauma to the brain if sufficient rest is not
taken. This is Secondary Impact Syndrome or SIS. Not only is the individual
more vulnerable to more concussions, but the results could be permanent,
or even deadly. Again, loss of consciousness is not a requirement for
this condition. The impact may seem mild and the symptoms may only include
being dazed. However, after a secondary impact the individual may collapse
and even die within minutes. There have been at least 17 documented cases
of Secondary Impact Syndrome, but it is still far from understood. However,
have shown an association between multiple concussions and reduced cognitive
performance, prolonged recovery, and the increased likelihood of subsequent
concussions. Once a person suffers a concussion, he or she is as much
as four times more likely to sustain a second one.
Concussions can be largely prevented. As elaborated by the CDC, some of
the primary prevention strategies include proper protective equipment,
proper coaching with an emphasis on safe practices, and good sportsmanship.
Importantly, awareness, education and early diagnosis of concussions can
help quicken response times and can lead to better, more informed decisions.
Athletic competition in the modern era has resulted in more traumatic
brain injuries and concussions, at both the high school and college level.
We are understanding that the current standards are insufficient for protecting
athletes, as coaches and sports program administrators may fail to protect
injured athletes by providing adequate attention after a potentially dangerous incident.
In short, we are learning that we need to put more effeort into protecting
athletes from neurological injuries. This will, in turn, help avoid
personal injury claims when athletes suffer avoidable injuries due to negligence. To learn more,
Contact Angel Law, P.C. today.