Concussions — which can be defined as traumatic head injuries causing changes in mental status — occur at rates of about 300,000 per year in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In children, a concussion can have a particularly serious impact, as a young person’s brain is still in a state of development and is therefore at a higher risk for long-term damage. In one ten-year period, about fifty football players of teen age or younger were killed due to complications related to in-school athletic head injuries.
Ailments Caused by Untreated or Aggravated Concussions
If a student suffers a concussion during sports and does not receive appropriate treatment or is prematurely placed back in play, the repercussions could be dire. One of the results could be post-concussion syndrome, which occurs when a concussion is not offered good and immediate treatment. The side effects of post-concussion syndrome are:
In addition to post-concussion syndrome, a student placed back in game too soon is at risk for second-impact syndrome. If the athlete suffers another trauma to an already concussed head, the results could be catastrophic. Second-impact syndrome has been known to cause hemorrhaging and brain swelling and, if untreated, death.
Caution Among Coaches
One of the reasons for traumatic brain injuries among student athletes is that coaches put players back in play too soon. One study cited by Trial magazine reported that forty-two percent of coaches who were surveyed believed that concussions only occur when a student loses consciousness. This is a misconception: Concussions can occur without the injured person ever losing consciousness. What’s worse, a quarter of the coaches polled admitted that they would put a student back in-game even if he or she was showing signs of having suffered a concussion.
Concussions are serious injuries that can result life-long problems. For a coach, teacher, or other official to ignore the hazards associated with a concussion is unacceptable and can merit a claim of inadequate concussion management. An official who fails to act in an injured child’s best interest is liable to such a claim.
For more information on student athlete concussions, see the other articles on the Carpey Law website.