Traumatic Brain Injuries & Sports
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) often occur as a result of a sudden blow to the head. Although these injuries can happen in many different ways, many people sustain TBIs while playing sports. How serious is the sports-related TBI problem? When is a child most at risk of sustaining this injury? Who is liable when a school-aged athlete suffers this type of injury? Here’s what you should know:
Statistics Surrounding Sports-Related TBIs
It’s estimated that there are 300,000 new cases of sports-related TBIs every year in the U.S. Sadly, many of the people who sustain sports-related TBIs are under the age of 18. In fact, the number of emergency room visits for concussions in children between the ages of 8 and 13 has doubled over the last year.
Athletes can suffer concussions in practically any sport, but they are at a greater risk of sustaining this injury while playing football, hockey, and soccer. Football is by far the most dangerous contact sport, accounting for nearly half of all reported sports-related concussions.
It’s important for parents to remember that their children can sustain concussions during both games and practices. About one-third of concussions are sustained during practices, where kids may not be as closely supervised. Unfortunately, many middle and high school athletes suffer multiple concussions. Nearly one-third of high school athletes who have sustained a concussion will sustain at least one more by the end of their school year. Clearly, this is a major problem that affects far more children than many people realize.
The Short and Long-Term Effects of TBIs
Every TBI is unique, so it is difficult to predict what symptoms and consequences your child could experience. Contrary to popular belief, a concussion does not always cause the victim to lose consciousness. Therefore, parents should never make the mistake of assuming their child is fine simply because they are still conscious.
Children who suffer concussions often experience dizziness, nausea, blurry vision, confusion, and severe headaches following the injury. Concussions can also cause changes in the child’s mood and attitude. Some children also find it hard to concentrate or remember things during their recovery. These symptoms–along with many others–could come and go for weeks or months. If the child suffers another concussion, the symptoms could become more severe and linger around for a longer period of time. Suffering multiple concussions is incredibly dangerous, which is why parents should always make sure their children follow the doctor’s orders and get a lot of rest during their recovery.
Some TBIs are much more severe than concussions. Children who suffer moderate or severe TBIs could lose consciousness for a long period of time and require months of physical therapy and rehabilitation. Tragically, many severe TBIs are fatal. Even if the child is not instantly killed as a result of the injury, they could lose consciousness and never regain it.
How Schools in California Should Handle Athletes With TBIs
There’s no doubt that the consequences of a concussion are serious. For this reason, every school in the state of California should know how to properly handle an athlete who appears to have sustained a TBI while playing sports.
The state of California has established laws governing how school districts, charter schools, and private schools deal with athletes who have suffered TBIs. If someone believes an athlete has sustained a TBI, the athlete must be immediately removed from the game for at least the rest of the day. The athlete cannot return to play until they have been evaluated by a licensed medical professional. If the doctor believes the athlete did not suffer a concussion, they must provide written documentation indicating it is safe for the athlete to play.
However, if the athlete is diagnosed with a concussion or any other form of TBI, they must undergo treatment while under the supervision of a doctor. Once the athlete has made a full recovery, the doctor can provide written documentation that states it is safe for the athlete to play. The athlete cannot return to play for at least seven days following the injury, however in many cases, it takes longer than seven days to recover from a concussion.
Schools are also required to hand out informational packets to both parents and student athletes at the start of every school year. These packets contain information regarding the risks of suffering a TBI and the steps student athletes can take to protect themselves. Both the parents and student athletes must sign and return these papers or the athletes will not be allowed to participate in athletic activities.
Liability For Sports-Related TBIs At School
The law clearly outlines what school officials should do when an athlete has suffered a TBI. If a school employee fails to comply with these rules, the school district could be liable if the child’s condition worsens as a result.
For example, if a child complains of dizziness and nausea after being hit during a football game, the coach should know that these are signs of a concussion. According to the law, the coach should immediately remove the child from the game since they are exhibiting signs of a concussion. If the coach does not remove the child from the game immediately, the child is at risk of further harm. The school district could be liable in this situation since their employee failed to comply with the state’s laws.
If you or a loved one has sustained a sports-related TBI, contact Carpenter & Zuckerman today to schedule a free consultation with our team of skilled personal injury lawyers. There are few injuries that are more devastating and life-changing than traumatic brain injuries. Let our personal injury attorneys fight for the compensation you deserve.
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