Brain Injuries: An Epidemic in Youth Sports

Football PlayersAs headline after headline continues to fill the news telling of yet another brain injury caused by sports, it makes us realize just how prevalent these occurrences are. We all hope that traumatic brain injuries, like severe concussions or worse, do not happen to our loved ones or ourselves. However, the reality is that 1 in 5 high school athletes will suffer a sports concussion during their season. With statistics like these, we can presume that the hottest topic in sports isn’t the score of last week’s football game, but instead the near epidemic status of sports brain injuries.

With 75 percent of traumatic brain injuries occurring in the form of concussions, it begs the question: is it worth it? Those who play under the Friday night lights would probably say yes. Unsurprisingly, 47 percent of all reported concussions are a result of high school football.

Just this last October, football player Andre Smith of Illinois died after a hit to the head in the final play of a game. He walked off the field but later collapsed and died. His cause of death: blunt force head injuries as a result of the football accident. Smith was the seventh high school football player to die this year as a result of an injury sustained while playing the sport.

Traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults in the U.S. While we don’t present these statistics to discourage the enjoyment of these favorite sports, we want you to be aware and cautious of the risks associated with them.

What makes a concussion a concussion?

Sure, we’ve all heard of concussions. Most of us probably have a good idea of what it means to have a concussion and have become well aware of the controversies that surround them. But, what really constitutes a concussion? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines concussions as caused by a sudden bump or blow to the head that causes the brain and head to move back and forth. The results of this are damaged brain cells and chemical changes within the brain.

After someone experiences the initial concussion, they may feel nauseous, dizzy, sensitive to light, fatigued, and confused among other symptoms. Regardless of how many symptoms are shown and the severity of them, it is important to seek medical attention to properly care for the brain injury. Concussions are common and, because of their frequency, people assume that they are not health-threatening. Concussions can range from mild to severe, but all classifications are in fact considered within the realm of traumatic brain injuries and need to be taken seriously.

Concussion Severity Classifications

Concussions are given a grade from one to three that rates the severity based on the symptoms shown by the victim:

  • Grade I: Temporary confusion, symptoms lasting 15 minutes or less.
  • Grade II: Temporary confusion, symptoms lasting 15 minutes or more.
  • Grade III: Loss of consciousness for merely seconds or longer.

Even when symptoms have seemingly subsided, it is important to be aware of any signs that may present themselves in the following days after a concussion. As stated earlier, it is absolutely necessary to seek medical care following a concussion, no matter the perceived severity.

Illinois Joins the Fight Against Youth Sport Brain Injuries

This past August 2015, Illinois Governor Rauner signed a bill into law called the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act. The law covers all youth sports and aims to implement stricter standard protocols when dealing with concussions. Schools must be well equipped with various personnel who can appropriately address concussions when they occur. Most importantly, perhaps, is the requirement that any player who is even suspected of having a concussion be pulled from the game or practice, evaluated, and released only by a qualified athletic trainer with a physician’s license.

We can only hope that this new law will succeed in decreasing the number of untreated concussions and prevent more severe brain injuries from happening going forward. Sports are an important part of the American lifestyle, but it’s important that when things go wrong, you know how to handle it.

If you or a loved one experiences a brain injury due to the negligence of another person, do not hesitate to call Franks Gerkin McKenna. We are experienced in personal injury cases like these and you can feel confident that our team will work tirelessly to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. We care about your well-being; don’t wait, call us today.