Two High School Athletes, Two Debilitating Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight the stories of two Chicagoland high school athletes, one a wrestler, one a football player, who recently suffered severe concussions while playing their respective sports. The football player, from Lane Tech High, remains hospitalized in the ICU after collapsing during a game.

The player, a senior at Lane Tech, walked off the field on Chicago’s Far South Side and fainted, suffering what appeared to be a seizure. Preceding his collapse there was no crushing blow, no noticeable slams to the ground. His brain injury, like so many others, revealed itself slowly and seemingly without warning.

Chicago Public Schools is not releasing any detailed information about his injury, however, a web page set up for him stated that he suffered a subdural hematoma (collection of blood on the surface of the brain). He is now in a coma at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Paramedics are almost always on hand for high school football games, and fortunately, medical personnel were already working on the athlete when the Chicago Fire Department arrived following a 911 call. He was seizing and having extreme trouble breathing, surrounded by his teammates and family, when paramedics arrived. He underwent emergency surgery to remove some pressure from his brain, and his father says he is doing better every day.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered his support and condolences to the athlete’s family, as they and their community remain hopeful of his full recovery. The teen had aspirations to play football in college. About 4.2 million people in the United States play youth, high school, and college football, many of whom know first-hand the lingering dangers and of traumatic brain injury. A fund has also been set up to help pay for his medical bills, which can be found at GoFundMe.com under the title “Drew Williams recovery fund.”

A former director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research told the Chicago Tribune that major brain injuries in football have spiked in recent years, peaking at 16 in 2011. He points to helmet-to-helmet contact as the reason for this spike, which officials have had difficulty eliminating from the sport.

The wrestler from Coal City High School was injured at the 2013 Illinois high school state finals, the moment he had trained years for. Just 19 seconds into his match, however, his opponent slammed him onto the mat. His head hit first, and his opponent’s chin slammed into his head from behind. The athlete signaled to the ref that he was hurt, and lay motionless for several minutes on the mat as his trainers and the refs tried to assist him.

It was clear he had been knocked out, albeit briefly, and there was a gash on the back of his head. The teen says now that there is a small window, perhaps 30 seconds, which he does not remember. He was given several minutes to be wrapped up, and five minutes after his concussions, he still seemed to have little sense of where he was.

He was given a balance test, which wrestlers are supposed to get only one chance at after a possible concussion. When his trainer releases his shoulders, expecting the teen to stay balanced on his own, he stumbles backward. Despite his obvious struggle to stand upright, he decides to go back in. He wound up losing that match 11-3, throughout which he seemed to be a shell of the athlete he was at the beginning of the match. To this day he does not remember most of the match.

The Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is a member of the Brain Injury Association of Illinois, and has decades of experiencing working with victims of brain injury and their families. Medical bills from these types of injury can be astronomical, and the long-term debilitating effects even more devastating. If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury through the negligence of another party, contact a skilled traumatic brain injury lawyer as soon as possible for a free legal evaluation.

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