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Sports Injuries Can Lead To Traumatic Brain Injury


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    Sports are a part of the American culture. Football alone is almost looked at with religious-like fervor, from the NFL to college football, high school football, and even peewee league. When you couple in baseball and basketball with other sports that are growing in popularity such as hockey and lacrosse, it should come as no surprise that so many people are either playing these sports or watching them. But, unfortunately, the realities of playing sports aren’t always as glorious when you factor in the harsh truths of how severe sports related injuries could be. Recent medical studies have started to shine a bright light on sports related traumatic brain injuries. Will Smith’s recent film Concussion took a look at the NFL’s attempts to block such studies from having an impact on their sport. The NFL has since reached an almost $800 million settlement with former players who have health problems from traumatic brain injuries. But while an emphasis has been put on major league sports where many athletes (from football players to hockey players and even pro wrestlers) have been forced to retire early due to repeated concussions, the impact on younger amateur athletes is still emerging. Here are a few things you need to know about sports related traumatic brain injuries and the impact that they can have on you and your loved ones.

    What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury

    Concussion is the more common term used to refer to traumatic brain injuries. This is usually caused by a direct hit to the head or face, but it can also include blows to the neck or trunk of the body that then transfers an “impulsive” force to the head. One way to think of this is that when a person is struck, his or her skull acts as a helmet, but the brain may actually collide with the skull causing damage to the brain. Usually, a concussion is caused by a fall, such as from kids playing on a playground, or a car crash. However, it can also be caused by collisions in contact sports such as football and hockey. Surprisingly, recent studies have shown that even equestrian sports, which might seem like a relatively “safe” activity, are actually responsible for many concussions Generally, this may result in a loss of consciousness or even a loss of short-term memory. However, it can take time before the full symptoms are revealed, be it hours or even days. A truly traumatic brain injury does not just cause temporary functional problems with the brain; it causes the brain to lose long-term functionality that can result in year’s worth of disabilities and impairment.

    Signs and Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury

    One of the problems with traumatic brain injuries are that they are so often not diagnosed or are diagnosed improperly. When a person receives a head injury, they are generally treated by an emergency medical worker such as an ER doctor. This person is usually more concerned with stabilizing the patient and not necessarily looking at long-term care. Improper follow-up can let the concussion completely slip under the radar. However, there are generally four categories that make up concussion symptoms and signs . These include:

    Physical—A person with a concussion will show physical symptoms such as headaches and blurry vision as well as nausea, dizziness, and balance problems. Other physical problems include sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises and a feeling of lethargy as if the person is always tired.
    Cognitive—Mental impairment (including memory) is another category for concussions. A patient may not be able to think clearly or may feel as if their thought process is muddled or slowed. They may have trouble concentrating on the simplest things like a conversation or a television show and may have trouble forming new memories when they take in new information.
    Sleep—A person’s sleep cycle may also be interrupted by a brain injury. This can vary widely including having trouble falling asleep or sleeping less that normal. Other people respond in the opposite manner by sleeping too much and having trouble waking up fully. It is important to note just how different your sleep pattern is after a brain injury.
    Emotional—One of the more disturbing signs of a concussion are emotional and mood changes. This can include feelings of anxiety or anger, often compounded by frustration from cognitive or physical impairments. A person may also become severely depressed and prone to wild mood swings after such an injury.

    Long-Term Problems with Traumatic Brain Injuries

    There has been more attention recently to long-term problems with traumatic brain injuries. These can include seeing all of the general signs and symptoms being sustained for months or years following the injury. Pro athletes have actually died young as a result of these repeated injuries and others suffer problems such as erratic behavior, angry and even violent outbursts, and issues with pain that linger for a significant time. These issues can cause years worth of medical bills and potential for the need for home health care providers, a costly need to say the least.

    There are currently new guidelines in place at the collegiate, high school, and peewee league levels for handling concussions at these ages. However, children are still being misdiagnosed leading to long-term problems. If you or a loved one has had a sports related traumatic brain injury that was misdiagnosed, then you need an experienced attorney who can review your medical records to determine if the misdiagnosis reaches the level of medical negligence. Wolf & Pravato is an experienced law firm that is here for a free consultation to review your case and advise you of your rights.

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