As personal injury attorneys with extensive experience in brain injury, we have covered and continue to follow the debate raging over the effects of concussion in sports. The NFL recently reached a huge settlement with many former players over cumulative brain injuries, and many high schools nationwide have implemented stricter safety policies to protect young athletes from concussion.
But the recent critical injury of a high school athlete is a tragic freak accident that no safety policy could have prevented.
Sean McNamee, 16, a football player at Wharton High School in Tampa, Fla., sustained a severe head injury while warming up before practice. Sean was simply playing catch with his teammates when he slammed his unprotected head into a machine used to paint lines onto the field.
Had Sean been in formal practice, he would have been wearing his helmet, but practice had not yet started. Sean jumped to catch a teammate’s throw, landed off-balance, and struck his head on the machine.
The impact fractured his skull. Doctors performed emergency surgery to reduce brain swelling and put Sean into a medically-induced coma. They told his family he might not survive.
After nearly a week in the coma, Sean regained consciousness. He was able to recognize his parents, to understand questions, and to respond with a nod or shake of his head. It will take some time to determine whether he sustained any permanent brain damage.