Many parents encourage their children to participate in sports with the idea that it will teach them discipline, sportsmanship, and give them some structure. Unfortunately, most parents do not plan on their child sustaining a head injury because of their participation in organized sports. Unfortunately, this is a realization which is gaining traction in today’s media. In light of the class action law suit against the NFL, head injury awareness has somewhat increased. In bringing this suit, former NFL players are alleging that the NFL and its doctors were aware of the dangers of repetitive concussions but failed to inform the players. Rather, it is the NFL trainers and doctors who allowed these players to continue playing through these concussions making the players even more susceptible to further and more serious injuries. Players are naturally competitive and want to “stay in the game.” That is why intervention, by coaches and team medical professionals, is critical to make an objective and professional assessment as to whether the player can or should stay in the game.
The University and Professional ranks have taken steps to closely monitor players who have sustained concussions. However, what about players in the youth and high school levels. Many college programs require their players to take a baseline test prior to the season. Is this the same at your child’s school or youth league? A baseline test (www.impacttest.com) allows physicians and trainers to evaluate the players before and after they have sustained a head injury or a suspected head injury. It gives the Physicians and trainers an assessment of the player’s normal brain functions prior to a concussion (a baseline) so that the physicians or trainers may assess the player after a sustained or suspected concussion.
Head injury awareness in youth sports is imperative. Parents need to be proactive in the heath of their children. Also, parents and coaches need to monitor children for suspected brain injuries as the child or youth may not understand the dangers of “playing through” this injury. The danger with head injuries is not the immediate impact that they have on a person but rather the debilitating long term effect. Many former NFL players can attest to this very fact. Some former NFL players, with a history of repetitive blows to the head, are suffering from debilitating post concussion syndrome or worse. For example, studies have linked repetitive head injuries to future cognitive decline.
Parents should be proactive when it comes to their children and head injuries. If a child or adolescent is involved in a contact organized sport, submit them to a base line test. This will give the child’s treating physician an idea of what level the child was at prior to a suspected brain injury and allow for a better assessment as to the extent of the injury as well as the preparedness of the child for continued contact. Also, if your child is involved in High School athletics, monitor their activities. Be aware of pressure by coaches or other outside influences pressuring your child to “play through” the injury. Be aware of pressure to “play through” the injury in fear of losing a starting spot. Be AWARE of pressure to “play through” the injury in fear of losing a scholarship offer.
Failure to disclose a brain injury to the child and their parent or failure to disclose the severity of a concussion to an adult athlete is a serious health risk. If this has happened to you or your child, you could have a cause of action. But first, get an evaluation by a qualified medical specialist. The sooner the condition is addressed the sooner the head injury victim can get the most appropriate care for the injury.
A civil trial attorney with the firm Wooten & Kimbrough, P.A., Mr. Damaso concentrates on cases involving personal injury and wrongful deaths and solely represents individual victims and consumers. He takes his clients' cases personally and is committed to their best possible outcome. His strong sense of community has led to his support of numerous charities in the Orlando area.