Contact sports are exciting; TBIs not so much

As summer heads into fall, parents need to be aware of the risk of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) for their children. We all need to be aware of those risks.

Concussions have always been a part of contact sports. However, it is not until recently that people began to realize just how multiple concussions could affect people. From football to soccer players and from military veterans to car crash victims, traumatic brain injury is a nasty reality.

Sport competitions are entertaining, or at least, they are supposed to be. However, with the ever-increasing emphasis on winning at all costs, the encouragement of violence, bench brawls, skirmishes on and off a playing field, and the sickening trend to encourage our children to fight like adult athletes, traumatic brain injury is becoming more frequent. Knowing the enemy seemingly does nothing to prevent it from encroaching on adults and children playing sports. Even the reality of what multiple head injuries may cause is still not enough to deter people from playing, or at least playing with the proper protective gear.

People live with the attitude that nothing bad could happen to them. While that may be the case that they never experience a tackle, body check, a ball or puck to the head or a header into the boards of a rink, in reality, concussions are quite common in sports. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 4 million concussions are reported every year, sustained while playing sports. That figure does not include boxing, workplace accidents, slip and fall accidents or car crashes.

Concussions are the result of the brain smashing into the skull, causing the brain tissues to swell in tandem with blood vessels going to the brain. Nerves may also be injured and head trauma may lead to a variety of symptoms, such as ringing in the ears, balance issues, nausea, fatigue, visual problems, memory and difficulty concentrating.

There are three grades that doctors use to classify concussions. Grade I is a mild concussion which lasts for less than 15 minutes, and the person does not lose consciousness. In Grade II, there is no loss of consciousness, but the concussion lasts longer than 15 minutes, and in Grade III, someone loses consciousness, even for a few seconds.

In the presence of a suspected head trauma, team doctors, trainers and coaches should, ideally, do an immediate evaluation of short- and long-term recall, a check of reflexes and overall coordination. Does this usually happen? No, it does not. Many players are put back on the field and continue to play, which has the potential to lead to a cumulative, damaging effect on the brain.

For those who have suffered brain injuries, whether sports related or not, and you suspect there was negligence in how you were treated, or not treated when you should have been, it’s imperative you discuss your situation with a skilled Cleveland brain injury lawyer. You have legal rights. Find out what they are.