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An estimated 3 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries each year in the United States. Around 10 percent of those injuries are concussions. A large portion of the individuals sustaining concussions are student-athletes.
Nearly every sport and recreational activity can result in a concussion; however, this type of injury is more common among contact sports, such as football, rugby, or soccer, as well as recreational activities, such as cycling or horseback riding. Sports are second only to motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of concussions in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24.
Females are more likely to incur a concussion during youth or collegiate sports activities and are more likely to experience longer-lasting symptoms. It is important to refrain from competing in sports after a concussion, as doing so increases the length of time it takes to recover from the injury and can place the athlete at risk of developing dangerous complications, such as second impact syndrome or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Read on for more information about what a concussion is, the standard recovery time following a concussion, and the danger of returning to the court or the field too early after the injury.
The brain is the consistency of gelatin. Both the skull and the cerebrospinal fluid protect the brain from bumps and jolts. A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a sudden or violent blow to the head or body, in which the brain strikes the skull or twists within it. While doctors often refer to this type of injury as a mild brain injury, there is nothing mild about an injury to the organ that controls all the functions and involuntary responses in your body, but only has a limited ability to heal after an injury. Concussions involve only a brief loss of consciousness, if any.
Other common symptoms suffered by those who have sustained a concussion include:
While the symptoms of the concussion most often occur shortly after the injury, they can also appear or seem to worsen in the following days. The highest risk of dangerous complications is within the first three hours after sustaining the injury.
Some of the symptoms that indicate a medical emergency after a concussion include:
Athletes who suffer a concussion are generally removed from the competition immediately. The athlete is then placed in concussion protocol. A concussion protocol is a series of actions prescribed by a school or club policy on how to appropriately respond to an athlete’s concussion and ensure that the athlete avoids the risk of further injury.
Concussions generally do not require a lot of medical treatment, but rather rely on rest and time to heal. Generally, concussion symptoms resolve between one and three weeks after the injury. However, returning to activities and sports too soon after the injury can result in the symptoms lasting for a longer time.
Concussion protocols develop a method by which the athlete slowly returns to normal activities and, eventually, to competitive play. Usually, the protocol involves several steps, including:
The most important component to treating and recovering from a concussion is rest. During the first several days after the injury, the student should also limit his or her time staring at the television, cell phone, or computer screens. Screen time can increase strain placed on the eyes and the brain, which can result in a longer recovery period. Student-athletes should also maintain a healthy diet and hydration during recovery time as nutrition and hydration promote healing.
Concussions are a temporary loss or impairment of function in the brain. After suffering a concussion, avoid strenuous activity, such as playing sports. It can not only pose a risk of further damage to the brain, but can also place the student-athlete at risk of serious or even deadly consequences, such as second impact syndrome or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which are described below.
Second impact syndrome is a rare, but deadly, condition caused by an individual receiving a second concussion while still experiencing symptoms from the first one. The second concussion causes the brain to swell rapidly. While the individual might finish the play without losing consciousness and can even make it to the sideline, the athlete will often collapse within minutes, as the brain rapidly loses its ability to control cerebrospinal fluid pressure, leading to severe swelling and even possible herniation of the brain. This results in loss of consciousness, loss of eye movement, dilated pupils, and ultimately, respiratory failure.
If the brain sustains repeated concussions, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) can occur. CTE is brain degeneration believed to be caused by repeated injury to the brain. While a diagnosis of the condition can only be obtained by observing the brain after death, CTE does present some symptoms that are identifiable through health screenings.
Some of those symptoms include:
The symptoms of CTE do not develop after one injury, but rather are the progression of complications from repeated injuries that occur over years.
While the cessation of symptoms is the most defining factor indicating that an athlete is ready to return to competition after suffering a concussion, there are other factors to consider as well, such as:
The risk of a second concussion is the greatest within the first ten days after suffering the first one while the athlete is still dealing with symptoms, such as dizziness and loss of balance. If the student has already suffered a concussion in the past and has now experienced a second one, the recovery time will generally be longer.
California law requires schools to remove students from play if they suffer a concussion and prevents the schools from allowing concussed student-athletes to return to play until after a licensed health care provider has cleared the student to resume sports activities. The law states that the coach is required to not only remove the student from play if exhibiting signs of a concussion, but also to continue monitoring the student’s condition, inform the student’s parent or guardian, and require the student to receive a medical evaluation before he or she may participate in the sport again.
If your child received a sports-related concussion and the coach allowed your child to continue to play, you can pursue compensation related to the expenses incurred for the treatment of your child’s concussion complications through a traumatic brain injury lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is a legal claim filed in civil court that seeks to prove who was responsible for the decision that caused your child’s injury and to show which expenses and impacts to your child’s quality of life were incurred as a result.
An experienced brain injury lawyer can help you understand whether a traumatic brain injury lawsuit is the best course of action based on the facts of your case. The specific circumstances of your accident will determine how you should proceed if you wish to pursue legal action.
The right attorney will have extensive knowledge of both the legal process for recovering damages related to a concussion and the concussion protocol requirements that schools must have in place. To schedule a free case review, during which you can discuss the details of your case and determine your eligibility to seek compensation for your injuries, contact an attorney online as soon as possible.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
655 West Broadway, Suite 1700
San Diego, Ca 92101
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.
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