It seems that concussions sustained by athletes are a big topic right now. Whether we're talking about top NFL players or pee wee football kids, or girls soccer, this is an important issue. New rules are even being implemented regarding sitting out games and other precautions when a concussion is diagnosed or suspected. For example, as I watched a college football game over the weekend, a player had to go to the sideline and sit out the next a play if his helmet came off while on the field. Even if it was a "minor" hit and the helmet came off, he had to go to the sideline. When this happened in the game I was watching, the announcers complained that it was a ridiculous rule. I had to wonder, with all of the recent studies and brain science out there, can we really take too many precautions when it comes to protecting the human brain?
A few days ago, I heard an interesting story on NPR about this very issue. The title of the story was, Head Injuries Rattle Even Devout Football Parents. The story caught my attention when they interviewed Dr. Robert Cantu. Dr. Cantu is a leader in the field of brain injuries. He is a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University. The story stated, "Cantu says children are among the most vulnerable to concussion because of weak necks, immature musculature and brains that are still developing. He advises kids not to pay tackle football until age 14, and play flag or touch football until then."
I became acquainted with Dr. Cantu when I once hired him as an expert in a personal injury case. Dr. Cantu provided us with strong expert opinions and we were able to prevail on our case. I was impressed with his knowledge of the traumatic brain injuries and spinal injuries.
Traumatic brain injuries have been widely discussed over the last half dozen years. Starting with our Iraq War veterans who sustained traumatic brain injuries on a large scale to now discussing brain injuries in the context of football players. For me, as a personal injury lawyer, traumatic brain injuries, or TBI, has been an important topic as I have handled many TBI cases which my clients have often sustained in car accidents. I've attended several seminars devoted solely to the topic of TBI as it relates to accident and injury cases.
When I evaluate a personal injury case for possible for possible TBI, there are several factors I look for: loss of consciousness, concussion, glasgow coma score, MRI reports, personality changes. etc. We talk to "before and after" witnesses - such as a spouse who can talk about the differences in the person before and after the accident. We look for memory issues, difficulty staying on task, and mood changes. A brain injury is not always apparent and so it is important to take some time of evaluate these cases carefully. Further, just because there was no loss of consciousness or no objective MRI findings does it mean there is no brain injury.
Whether you have a child playing football right now or if you know someone who was recently injured in an accident, be sure to be vigilant for the signs of traumatic brain injury. If you suspect a brain injury, get proper medical attention. If you have sustained a brain injury because of someone else's negligence, call the Utah personal injury law firm of Handy & Handy. We would be happy to talk to you about your case.