Brain Injuries in Sports

soccer ball to the head

Even with the proper safety gear, contact and non-contact sports alike pose a significant risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI) to athletes. A concussion is one of the most common sports injuries, with an estimated 250,000 concussions and eight deaths due to head injuries occurring each year in football alone. Get the facts on the dangers of brain injuries in sports.

Common & Severe Injuries

Over 20% of football players suffer a concussion during a football season and some more than once. Repeated concussions can lead to brain injury and neuropsychological effects. In order to manage concussions in sports, the Colorado Medical Society set forth guidelines that categorize concussions into three grades and include recommended treatment for each grade:

  • Grade 1: Confusion Without Amnesia, No Loss of Consciousness. Treatment recommends removing the player from the contest. Examine immediately and every five minutes for the development of amnesia or post-concussive symptoms. Permit the player to return to contest if amnesia does not appear, and no symptoms appear for at least 20 minutes.
  • Grade 2: Confusion With Amnesia, No Loss of Consciousness. Treatment recommends removing players from contest and disallowing their return. Examine frequently for signs of evolving intracranial pathology. Permit to practice after one full week without symptoms.
  • Grade 3: Loss of Consciousness. Treatment recommends transporting the player to the nearest hospital by ambulance and performing a neurologic evaluation. Admit to a hospital if signs of pathology are detected. If findings are normal, keep the patient for overnight evaluation. Permit to practice after two full weeks without symptoms.

In spite of the prevalence of brain injury in sports, many physicians, coaches, and athletic trainers dismiss the dangerous possibility of TBI and often allow an injured person to continue to play. There are various reasons for this, and none of them good enough to sacrifice a player’s health and future.

Laws Protecting School Athletes from Sports-Related Concussion Injuries

On September 8, 2010, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health held a field hearing regarding the ConTACT Act (HR 1347) in Newark, NJ, entitled "Protecting School-aged Athletes from Sports-related Concussion Injury." The Brain Injury Association of New Jersey (BIANJ) testified on BIAA's behalf on how the ConTACT Act could be modified to reflect the current situation in states across the country, and why it is important to continue the push towards protecting student-athletes from second impact syndrome.

On September 16, 2010, the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee voted to approve the ConTACT Act and send it on to full committee consideration. The subcommittee adopted several changes to the legislation suggested by BIAA, including ensuring that the measure works in concert with state legislative efforts. They also suggested providing any type of cognitive tests, not just computerized tests and encouraging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work with BIA state affiliates and other relevant organizations during the law's implementation period.

The bill was considered by the full Energy and Commerce Committee on September 23, 2010, and passed as amended by voice vote. Finally, in the late evening hours of September 29, 2010, the ConTACT Act was passed by the full House of Representatives and will now be considered by the Senate. This is a tremendous victory for school-aged children and their parents across the country, and BIAA is committed to working with Senate leadership to ensure final passage of this important measure.

If you or someone you love received a sports-related brain injury, we can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact Scarlett Law Group at (415) 688-2176 for a consultation today.

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