Head and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) happen more regularly than one may think. In fact, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), roughly 1.7 million instances of TBI happen every year in the U.S. One of the most common types of TBI is a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). While TBIs can happen to anyone at anytime, sports-related concussions happen at an alarming frequency of up to 3.8 million per year in the U.S. alone. With this in mind, knowing the warning signs of a concussion is incredibly important.
A concussion is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that moves the brain rapidly or bounces it inside the skull. Following the initial impact, the brain will slam against the inside of the skull then rebound to the other side and can also twist. These sudden movements damage the brain, causing internal swelling typically without any outward signs of injury.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of concussions. Other common causes of concussions include being struck by or against an object (including while playing recreational or professional sports), car crashes, and more. Even though sports like football require helmets to protect players from head injuries, the equipment typically does not protect players from suffering concussions.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
Early on, symptoms of a concussion can be overlooked or mistaken as less serious health issues. Concussion symptoms can be easy for the layperson to confuse with other medical conditions or causes. So, what signs should one look out for, especially after a recent blow to the head? Concussion indicators fall into three categories: physical, cognitive, and emotional. Certain concussion symptoms may appear immediately, while others can take anywhere from a few days to even months after the initial injury to come to light.
Fuzzy or blurred vision
Nausea or vomiting
Sensitivity to noise or light
Feeling tired or having no energy
Difficulty thinking clearly
Feeling slowed down
Difficulty remembering new information
Nervousness or anxiety
Sleeping more or less than usual, or trouble falling asleep
Concussions and CTE
In both professional and amateur sports (especially football), repeated blows to the head can happen over time. Though not all blows cause concussions, many do. Repeated head trauma can result in a progressive degenerative disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE affects the brains of those who have suffered repeated concussions and TBIs, with many diagnosed in athletes who participate in contact sports.
Each time the player’s head is impacted, it shakes the brain inside the skull, building up abnormal tau protein. This protein forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells. While CTE has been seen in people as young as 17, symptoms do not generally begin appearing until years later.
CTE brain damage persists for years after traumatic impacts to the head. The brain of a person who suffers from CTE will deteriorate and lose mass over time. While no one knows just how prevalent CTE is, researchers at Boston University found 96% of ex-NFL players suffer from the disease.
NCAA Head Injury Attorneys
The attorneys at Raizner Slania LLP represent many different clients in concussion-related lawsuits against the NCAA, universities, and athletic conferences. Our clients allege these entities ignored the obvious dangers of concussions, failed to warn players of the risks, and continued to encourage players to play even after they suffered sports-related concussions. If you or someone you know played football in college and suffered head injuries, contact us today for a confidential free consultation.