Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn recently experienced a mild concussion and wisely chose to withdraw from of further events, giving up her chance at the World Cup. She was wise to take the advice of her doctors above that of her coaches who cleared her to ski despite lingering symptoms of concussion. Should she experience a second head injury during training, the results could be deadly.
While on a practice run, Vonn fell on her head and suffered a mild concussion. She attempted to continue her training after the injury, but she felt mentally foggy and had difficulty concentrating. Vonn realized that these symptoms put her at too great a risk. After conferring with her medical team, she decided she would take time off to recover fully before returning to training.
Vonn told the Associated Press that the decision was not easy, but that she had great confidence in the medical advice she received. “I’m a competitor … that’s what makes this a really tough choice, but I do feel it’s the right one.”
The Danger of a Second Traumatic Brain Injury
After traumatic head injuries, most athletes continue to play or train despite symptoms of brain trauma. The CDC reported on two specific cases in 1997 in which football players complained of headaches and lightheadedness, yet continued playing. In each case, the athlete suffered a subsequent blow to the head with disastrous and deadly consequences.
Second Impact Syndrome
Each of the players suffered concussions because of their initial head injuries. However, without allowing ample time for their brains to heal, subsequent strikes to the head resulted in death for both players. Known as second impact syndrome, the injury causes runaway brain swelling that eventually puts too much pressure on the brain, causing death.
Signs of Injury
There is a greater risk of second impact syndrome in sports that involve high speeds or collisions such as football, hockey, skiing, boxing and soccer. The American Academy of Neurology has established a list of signs and symptoms that players, parents and coaches should be on the lookout for in order to determine if a player has suffered an injury. Some of these symptoms might include confusion, amnesia, and loss of consciousness or any mental status changes. Any players exhibiting these warning signs must not return to the game without a doctor’s approval.
Preventing Second Impact Syndrome
Second impact syndrome is easy to prevent. Athletes and coaches must take early signs of concussion seriously. Players should only return to the game after a full recovery resolves all symptoms.
If you or someone you love experienced a traumatic brain injury, contact our office. Our knowledgeable, experienced attorneys will review your case, free of charge. We will work with you to make sure that you are compensated in full for any medical costs, pain and suffering, or lost wages that you might incur because of the injury.