Much attention is paid to the occurrence of concussions in professional sports. The size of the players combined with their record speeds and strength makes for incredibly devastating hits, often causing brain injuries. But even among athletes who have yet to make the big leagues, concussion can often be just as damaging.
Incidence of Concussion Increasing
While there are variances in what specifically defines concussion, generally it is considered to be a mild form of traumatic brain injury (MTBI) caused when the brain strikes the inside the skull. Two studies released in 2010 by The American Academy of Pediatrics show that the occurrence of child concussion from sports is on the rise. Between 1997 and 2007, concussion in children 8 to 13 years old had doubled and had gone up 200 percent in 14 to 19 year olds – ages when children are likely to be at their most competitive.
Some of the increase can be blamed on the simple fact that more students are getting involved in sports that involve impact, and it’s not just football. Soccer, hockey and lacrosse have grown tremendously in popularity, and all carry a risk for concussion. Plus, medical understanding of concussion has lead to an increased awareness of the problem and how to spot the symptoms, which may not be immediately apparent.
Evaluating the Risk
Professional sports teams around the world are using what is called the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2, which was developed by an international group of concussion experts. The test is valid for athletes who are at least 10 years old, and includes a self-assessment and a section for medical staff to evaluate the player. The self-assessment asks the player to rank the severity of things like: headache, neck pain, sensitivity to light or noise, dizziness, difficulty concentrating or remembering, confusion or insomnia.
Insomnia and several other symptoms such as nervousness or anxiety, feelings of sadness and generally being more emotional are signs of concussion, even after the initial pain has gone away. Parents and teachers should watch for these signs in the days that follow.
Long Term Effects
Although concussion is considered a mild form of TBI, it is not something to take lightly. There are serious long-term side effects associated with concussion. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, dementia and emotional problems like depression have been linked to concussion. Repeated concussion and hits to the head as typically sustained by athletes, placing them especially at risk, whether they are already pros or working hard in school.
If you have suffered one or more concussions, they may have caused brain damage and other serious problems. The Brain Injury Law Center specializes in cases involving concussion and MTBI. Contact our experienced attorneys for a free consultation to evaluate the details of your case and help you choose the best course of action.