While the excitement of watching and participating in contact sports activities continues to be a favorite American pastime, what happens off the field now dominates news headlines. Many stories involve allegations of “player doping” and the failure of the NCAA and professional team owners to controller players' action when not playing or practicing. However, in the last decade or so, Americans have become aware that many traditional contact “collision” sports are causing concussions and life-threatening brain injuries.
The NCAA sports injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents victims who have suffered a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), concussion, or another injury during collegiate athletics. Our law firm has successfully prosecuted cases for our clients whose lives have been impacted by the negligent actions of others and require compensation for their damages. Our attorneys are available to answer any legal question on how to receive the monetary compensation you deserve if your sports-related injuries were a result of someone else's negligence. Should you have additional questions, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights.
What is a College Sports-Related Brain Injury?
A blow, bump or jolt to the head, neck or body can cause rapid movement of the brain inside the skull that disrupts normal brain function. A mild injury can cause long-term, severe health complications even if the victim believes they are only mildly injured.
In many cases, the individual who sustained a bump to the head is unaware that they have developed a severe brain injury or concussion (mild traumatic brain injury – MTBI). However, when an object contacts the head, the brain can be jostled, bruised or injured without notice. The victim believes that they are okay and might not feel the effects of the injury for days, weeks, months, or ever.
Many times, a concussion or severe brain injury will not display any outward signs. The victim may not lose consciousness, blackout or feel faint. Other times, the victim may forget how the incident occurred or what they were doing before the impact to the head. After the brain has suffered some injury, the organ is exceptionally vulnerable any subsequent contact could cause significantly more damage than the initial blow.
Do I Have a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Related to College Sports?
You may be one of the more than one million Americans who develops a brain injury every year. Experiencing any one of the symptoms and signs listed below might indicate that you have a severe brain injury or concussion.
- Your behavior has changed unexpectedly and without apparent reason;
- You experience uncontrollable mood swings;
- There is an identifiable reduction in your intellectual quotient (IQ), or you suffer some other cognitive abnormality;
- You have difficulty with language and slur your words with noticeable alterations to your speech pattern;
- You are challenged while focusing or concentrating on specific tasks;
- You were diagnosed with nerve damage or another neurological issue that causes numbness in your extremities;
- During or after the event that caused a bump to your head or neck, you experienced convulsions, dizziness or lightheadedness;
- You are experiencing amnesia or have a noticeable vacant stare;
- You lost most of your coordination;
- You have a noticeable metallic taste on your lips or in your mouth and throat;
- You experience severe or migraine headaches;
- You were knocked unconscious;
- You have unusual problems with social interactions or inhibition.
Grading a Sports-Related Concussion
Your health care provider or emergency room doctor might diagnose you with a concussion using a medically accepted standard grade system from 1 to 3 where one is a mild form of brain injury, and three is the most severe.
- Grade I – The symptoms associated with a Grade 1 concussion include a minimal loss of memory and slight disorientation that can last up to 30 minutes. Typically, there is no loss of consciousness at this grade.
- Grade II – This level of concussion is significantly more intense than a Grade 1 brain injury. At this level, the victim sustained a loss of consciousness for up to five minutes. The damage can last up to 24 hours. During this time, the brain is highly susceptible to additional injury should there be another impact to the head or neck.
- Grade III – This intense level of consciousness requires immediate medical attention. The victim may experience long- or short-term amnesia. Without proper medical care, a Grade 3 concussion can degrade that leads to Second Impact Syndrome.
Second impact syndrome usually develops from a severe head injury that has not yet healed completely. These victims typically have cerebral swelling caused by intense intracranial pressure. Without proper treatment, the bleeding associated with the brain injury can lead to death. Statistics from the CDC reveal that over of the 1.7 million individuals who experience severe traumatic brain injuries every year, more than 50,000 die from their condition.
Sports-Related Brain Injury Statistics
According to the CDC, more than 3.8 million concussions were reported in 2012, which is more than double the number of cases that were published just ten years earlier. Other staggering statistics include:
- One out of three sports concussions occurs when the player is practicing.
- Four out of ten players suffering from cumulative concussions develop an increased potential risk for a catastrophic head injury that could cause permanent neurological disabilities.
- Nearly half of all reported sports concussion injuries happen while children are participating in high school football games and at practices.
- Approximately twenty percent of high school athletes suffer a sports concussion injury at some point during their time at school.
- One out of three high school athletes reports two or more sports concussions within a single school year.
- Nine out of ten athletes diagnosed with a concussion did not lose consciousness when the injury occurred.
- Nine out of ten professional boxers will sustain a severe brain injury at some time during their career.
- Statistics reveal there is a significant rise in the number of sports-related concussions occurring to middle school athletes.
- More than 5 million Americans suffer from disabilities associated with TBIs (traumatic brain injuries).
Medical science recognizes that the effects of experiencing a concussion are cumulative. Studies show that it to take significantly longer to recover from subsequent brain injuries and more than one mild to severe brain injury increases the risk of developing physical and mental complications in the years ahead.
High School Sports
Studies reveal that concussions occurring in high school athletes are caused by a collision with an object, equipment, a teammate, an opponent, or when hitting the ground during a game or practice. Concussions and severe brain injuries occur more often during organized high school competitive sports events, especially football games/practices that account for six out of ten of all school support-related brain injuries.
High school boys are most likely to suffer a sports-related concussion or severe brain injury while playing football, while girls are most likely to experience a brain injury playing soccer. The top five recreational (sports) activities that cause most concussions in five-year-old to 18-year-old children playing:
- Ice hockey
- Playing on the playground
In fact, more than 2.4 million children suffered a sports-related injury between 2001 and 2005 that required a visit to the emergency room. Of those ER visits, 135,000 (6%) involved a sports-related concussion.
The time it takes for a high school athlete to recover from a sports-related concussion is significantly longer than college athletes. Also, the high school athlete is three times more likely to experience a second concussion than adults and college-age men and women. Without an exact diagnosis and effective medical response to treat a severe brain injury or concussion, the injured victim can develop long-term, severe consequences that might lead to coma or death.
Sports-Related Brain Injury Symptoms
Many individuals who experience a hit to the head, neck or shoulders have no outward signs of a concussion or brain injury. Others develop noticeable indicators of a head injury and experience many of the symptoms listed below.
- Abnormal fatigue of the appendages
- Balance issues
- Behavioral changes
- Bradykinesia (slow movement typically associated with Parkinson's disease)
- Breathing difficulties
- Blurred vision
- Changing sleep patterns
- Difficulty problem solving
- Gait changes
- Vocal pitch changes
- Challenges completing familiar tasks
- Trouble finding the right word when communicating
- Challenges lifting or grasping objects
- Difficulty maintaining focus or concentration
- Difficulty completing tasks
- Continually dropping things
- Emotional trauma
- Uncontrollable fear of the unknown
- Feeling of helplessness
- Impaired posture or balance
- Inability to think clearly
- Increasing aggression
- Learning disability
- Loss of automatic movements
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of identity
- Memory Loss
- Mobility challenges and lack of coordination
- Mood swings
- Severe and migraine headaches
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Misplacing things
- Muscle cramps and twitches
- Poor judgment
- Rigid muscles
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Sense of guilt
- Slurred speech
- Suicidal ideation (the thoughts of suicide)
- Difficulty understanding visual images
- Increasing withdrawal from social activities, work, and relationships
- The inability to walk without tripping
- Uncontrollable crying or laughter
- Uncontrollable anxiety
While most of the symptoms are physical, some victims experience mental and emotional indicators also. These individuals have noticeable changes in their mood, feelings of anxiousness or nervousness, a sense of sadness, or significant fluctuations in their overall emotional health.
Diagnosing and Treating a Concussion
Any individual who has experienced a hit to the head should see their health care provider or emergency room doctor immediately. The physician will conduct preliminary tests and perform a comprehensive physical examination. The medical profession will likely ask questions that test your memory and evaluate your ability to stay focus.
The doctor might test you to evaluate your coordination, balance, and reflexes. You may undergo an MRI (magnetic resonance image) or CT (computerized tomography) scan that could identify bruising or bleeding. Your doctor may recommend you undergo neuropsychological testing that can more accurately detect a concussion injury.
To treat your condition, doctors usually recommend you go home, lie down and rest for days or weeks without much movement. Any additional impact to the head could cause a negative impact and life-altering changes to your well-being. The doctor will likely tell you that not overtaxing your body, getting plenty of sleep, and staying inactive can improve your condition and begin the healing process. Your doctor will likely recommend that you do not operate machinery, drive your car, or participate in any physical activity that could cause additional harm to your brain.
Changing Rules in Sports
In 2015, the NFL (National Football League) issued a press release stating that they were providing additional funds to study brain concussions and injuries. The league said that they were investing in concussion-preventing technologies to combat Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a debilitating brain injury-related condition that has plagued many of their players. The following year, the NFL announced its “Play Smart. Play Safe” initiative with a promise to spend millions of dollars on medical research.
However, by 2017, the league was taking a different approach in attempting to prove that there was no correlation between football-related injuries and the development of CTE. While they did invest nearly $60 million in the technology, most of the research involved jockeys and not football players. Since then, the league has downplayed how often head injuries occur in the game.
The US Soccer Federation is enforcing new rules in the hope of protecting young players from severe head injuries and concussions. The new regulations state that all children under 11 years old will be prohibited from using a “header” during games and practice. The change in rules will restrict how players can participate in the sport or when practicing using their head to hit the ball.
As early as 1982, the NCAA began adopting systems to surveil injuries occurring in collegiate sports. A published an article in 1994 by a sports scientist revealed that “concussions accounted for at least 60% of head injuries in each of the sports monitored.” At that time, the NCAA adopted guidelines and protocols regulating when a player could return to the game or practice after suffering a concussion.
Who is at Fault for my Brain Injury Sustained During Collegiate Practice or Game?
While it might be evident that your injury occurred while participating in sports with a professional league, the NCAA, or school activity, determining responsibility can be challenging. An attorney working on your behalf can identify every party at fault for your injuries and take appropriate legal action to ensure you receive financial compensation for your damages.
Your lawyer may find that it was the negligence of the professional league, college, school, or coaches that caused your injury. It might be determined that the doctor who provided your treatment and allowed you to return to practice or games his at fault for misdiagnosing your condition or creating an environment for additional injury to your head. It might be that the manufacturer of the sports equipment you use failed to protect you from an impact your head that led to your severe injury.
Monetary Compensation for a NCAA Sports-Related Injury
The NCAA sports injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC understand that the sports-related injury that led to your medical issues was not your fault. We have successfully obtained millions on behalf of the victims in their family members to ensure they were adequately compensated to cover their medical expenses, household bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain, suffering, and emotional damage and can help your family too.
Our legal team encourages you to contact our attorneys today to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation to discuss the merits of your monetary recovery claim. We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits involving preventable sports-related injuries through contingency fee arrangements. This agreement postpones the payment of legal services until after we have completed your case successfully through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict.
Our law firm gets results quickly because we understand you need money now. We proudly offer every client a “No Win/No-Fee” Guarantee, meaning if we are unable to secure financial compensation you owe us nothing. All information you share with our law office will stay confidential.