Wisconsin is a sports-loving state, but parents, coaches, teachers, and students are waking up to the facts: brain injuries are serious, and they’re more common mixed with contact sports.
Sports-related injuries are not usually fatal; in fact, most injuries are mild sprains or strains. But brain injuries can be illusive; worse, they can be catastrophic—especially when not treated properly immediately.
If you or a loved one suffered a sports-related brain injury, call the Madison brain injury attorneys at (608) 268-0268 for a free consultation.
Traumatic Brain Injuries: Mild to Severe
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts standard brain functions. TBI cases range from mild to severe; mild brain injuries may result in a brief loss of consciousness, whereas a severe injury can result in permanent neurological damage with lifelong deficits to varying degrees.
Mild brain injuries are most common and are generally referred to as concussions.
All concussions are brain injuries, but concussions aren’t always recognized or treated appropriately. In particular, sports concussions have become a contentious issue, as organizations like the NFL and NCAA have unsuccessfully protested a relationship between contact sports and TBIs.
Unfortunately, professional athletes aren’t the most vulnerable players risking injury. Children and teens are particularly susceptible to brain injuries and what’s called second impact syndrome (SIS), which occurs when a primary concussion isn’t observed and treated properly, and is followed by a second brain injury (mild or severe). Because the human brain isn’t fully mature until adulthood, children and teens are most at risk of SIS.
This condition, while rare, can be devastating; young, otherwise healthy patients can die within minutes of a second brain injury. SIS is also controversial; since few cases have been recorded or studied, there are limited resources for parents, coaches, and teachers.
Wisconsin Sports and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Approximately 30 million children and teens participate in organized sports across the country, and according to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, sports and recreational activities equal about 21 percent of traumatic brain injuries among American youth.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine published a study on American high school and college football players that assessed 94 catastrophic head injuries suffered over a 13-year period; only two of the reported injuries were sustained by college athletes. The remaining injuries were suffered by high school students, and 71 percent of the players had incurred a previous concussion during the same sport season.
This is unacceptable. Had the students, parents, or coaches known the implications of ignoring even a mild concussion, it is likely these deaths could have been prevented. However, it is common for players to ignore symptoms, especially if the player is competing for a scholarship or other incentives.
The Wisconsin State Legislature passed regulations that address youth athletic activities and brain injuries. For example:
- Coaches are required to distribute information about concussions and head injuries at the beginning of a season and collect signatures from players, or their guardians if the player is less than 19 years old.
- Players shall be removed from a youth athletic activity if the coach, official, or health care provider determines the player exhibits signs, symptoms, or behavior consistent with a concussion or head injury.
- A player may not participate in a youth athletic activity until he/she is evaluated by a physician and received written clearance to resume play.
- Any athletic coach or official involved in an athletic activity, or volunteer who fails to remove a person from a youth athletic activity is immune from civil liability for any injury resulting from that omission unless it constitutes gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
These regulations are important for parents to note and understand. For example, if a player suffers a mild concussion but appears to be OK, a coach or trainer can’t force the player to play as a means to punish or condition no matter the circumstance.
Parents, coaches, trainers, and physicians must take primary concussions seriously to avoid SIS and other sports-related brain injuries.
If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury in Madison or anywhere in Wisconsin, we want to hear from you. Call (608) 268-0268 to speak with a Wisconsin brain injury lawyer today.
Brain Injury Information for Parents, Coaches, and Students
While serious brain injuries like SIS are rare, the consequences of a brain injury have far-reaching implications for individuals, families, and communities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2012, 329,290 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for sports and recreation activities that included a diagnosis of concussion or TBI.
From 2001 to 2012, the rate of emergency rooms visits for sports and recreation-related injuries with a diagnosis of concussion or TBI (alone or in combination with other injuries), more than doubled among children age 19 or younger.
Parents and guardians are the first line of defense; but coaches, trainers, and teachers must be vigilant to observe the signs and symptoms related to TBIs.
Concussions affect people in four areas of function:
- Physical – Headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness
- Mental – Poor memory, lack of concentration, slow verbal responses
- Emotional – Irritability, sadness, aggressive mood swings
- Sleep – Trouble falling asleep, restless sleep
Most people don’t know enough about traumatic brain injuries to observe symptoms correctly and limit sports activities accordingly. However, Guidelines for the Management of Sport-Related Concussions have been adapted from the American Academy of Neurology and include responses for primary and secondary concussions.
Wisconsin Brain Injury Lawyers
There is currently no governing agency that oversees concussions and traumatic brain injuries for middle, high school, and collegiate sports.
Football has been widely criticized for its high-contact nature; every year since 1995, at least one middle or high school student has died from playing football. Trainers, coaches, and officials have come under fire in courtrooms across the country.
But football is not alone in brain injury risks. Data from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons indicates that cycling, baseball, basketball, skateboarding, soccer, water sports, and snow sports are other common causes of sports-related head injuries in children.
Sports injuries, but particularly sports concussions, are serious and can lead to permanent disability or death.
The effects of a brain injury aren’t limited to the injury victim. Brain injuries are often accompanied by overwhelming medical expenses, including long-term care or rehabilitation, which can impact a victim’s entire family.
The Madison injury attorneys at Boller & Vaughan understand the far-reaching physical, financial and emotional consequences of brain injuries, and we’re here to help you pursue the compensation you and your family need to move forward.
If you have questions related to a sports injury, second impact syndrome (SIS), or traumatic brain injury, contact Boller & Vaughan to speak with an expert today or call us directly at (608) 268-0268.
The call is free, the consultation is free. Don’t wait! Every minute matters.