The NFL’s recent high profile measures to reduce the risks of concussions to players brought well deserved attention to an important subject. For many decades, athletes at all levels were expected to shake off the symptoms that follow a head injury and get back in the game. But intensive study of concussions has led to the awareness that they are indeed traumatic brain injuries, and re-injury before symptoms have cleared can have lifelong, serious consequences.
As important as this development is for professional athletes, the problem among teen athletes might be characterized as epidemic. The National Federation of State High School Associations estimates that more than 140,000 high school athletes suffer concussions in the U.S. every year. Football is the most frequent culprit, followed by lacrosse, soccer, wrestling and basketball.
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC) has instituted a detailed “Return to Play” protocol to restrict young athletes’ participation after head injuries. The protocol dictates a six stage progression from no activity to light aerobic exercise and culminating in full contact practice before return to play is authorized. Any appearance of symptoms means the student athlete must go back to the previous level. The most important aspect: every suspected head injury must be assessed by an appropriate health care professional.
Equipment innovation is another area of ongoing attention. One recent development is the introduction of a new style of helmet to be worn by baseball pitchers. Dr. Julian Bailes of the West Virginia University Department of Neurosurgery, a national expert on concussions, highlighted the obvious risks in a recent interview with WDTV: “We’ve protected batters with helmets for years, and it’s said that a pitcher can have a ball 120, 130, 140 miles an hour, maybe faster, coming back at him, and the same goes for girls softball.”
Traumatic Brain Injury Victims Need Expert Assessment and Proper Care
Head trauma is a serious danger to a child’s future, whether caused by sports and bicycle accidents, ATV injuries, playground falls or swimming pool accidents. Motor vehicle accidents, including car wrecks and trucking accidents, frequently result in the sudden changes in direction or direct impacts to the skull that cause traumatic brain injuries to drivers and passengers. In the aftermath of even a seemingly mild blow to the head, awareness of the symptoms of a concussion is vital.
Head injury victims or their family members who suspect that another party’s negligence led to the injury should discuss their concerns with a West Virginia personal injury lawyer. Whether the harm was caused by a drunk driver, brake failure on a coal truck or any other circumstance, a brain injury attorney can help you understand your legal options. Because of the serious long-term implications of a brain injury, a precise assessment of the injury victim’s long term needs is crucial to obtaining justice.