Ongoing research into traumatic brain injuries reveals that significant brain changes occur in contact sports players even in the absence of any concussions. Much of this research is focusing on high school athletes, who play during critical times of brain development. Traumatic brain injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm detail these recent studies and their findings.
A high school association in Illinois just became the first to be hit with a potential class action because of concussion injuries in football. The lead plaintiff played for the Notre Dame College Prep football team for four years, and now claims he suffers health problems from the program. He filed suit against the Illinois High School Association for failing to establish policies that minimize concussion risks, such as when injured players should be allowed back onto the field.
There have been similar actions filed against the NFL and NCAA, which represent professional and collegiate football teams, respectively. The NCAA class action resulted in a $75 million settlement in July 2014. The NFL action ended in a $756 million settlement, which will fund medical exams, research, and preexisting injuries from concussions, like Alzheimer’s and traumatic encephalopathy.
For every one NFL player, however, there are about 2,000 high school players in the U.S. Recently, researchers at Wake Forest University attempted to study this population, analyzing nearly 25 student athletes aged 16 to 18 at a North Carolina high school. Scientists used a helmet-mounted system to measure the severity and frequency of players’ impacts during practices and games.
They found that the heaviest hitters showed the most brain changes, even in the absence of concussion symptoms. They now plan to pursue the long-term consequences of these impacts, including changes in cognitive function or behavior.
Brain injuries enact brain changes more quickly in some than in others. An Ohio State University football player and wrestler was recently found after being reported missing for over a week. Police believe he shot himself. He was only 22 years old.
According to his friends and family, the athlete suffered from confusion spells after repeated concussions. Although he was a reserve defensive lineman and wrestler, he did not have any documented concussions during his three years at Ohio State. The County Coroner stated his brain will be tested for evidence of damage.
More than 173,000 sports-related TBIs are treated in emergency departments
every year in the U.S. in kids and teens up to age 19. Aside from football,
some of the other sports that commonly cause TBIs are lacrosse, wrestling,
hockey, cheerleading, snowboarding and basketball.
In efforts to minimize brain injuries, high schools throughout the country are taking on various new rules and systems. Many school districts are replacing lower-rated helmets with better ones, or implementing rules on certain blocking and tackling drills. Others are looking to have trained medical personnel at practices and games to recognize and treat head injuries.
In 2009, Washington became the first state to pass a law regarding concussions in sports, often called Return to Play laws, which have now passed in all 50 states. The Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is a member of the Brain Injury Association of Illinois, and has decades of experience handling these types of cases. Our team of traumatic brain injury lawyers is currently investigating cases of severe head injury from various causes. We provide free case reviews to injured victims and their families nationwide.