A traumatic brain injury occurs when a bump, blow or jolt to the head disrupts normal brain functioning. Traumatic brain injuries range from mild to severe and can result in permanent impairments. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1.7 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries each year in the United States, and TBIs contribute to 30.5 percent of all injury-related deaths. Although falls and motor vehicle accidents remain the two leading causes of traumatic brain injury in the United States, sports accidents are responsible for an increasing number of TBIs.
According to a study by the CDC, from 2001 to 2009, the number of emergency room visits for TBIs sustained during sports- and recreation-related activities by children ages 0 to 19 increased by 62 percent. The two most common activities associated with these injuries were bicycling and playing football. In recent years, growing concerns over football players’ risk of traumatic brain injury have prompted new safety rules at the high school, college and professional levels.
In January 2012, the National Federation of State High School Associations Football Rules Committee approved a new policy requiring players to sit out for one play if their helmet comes off while the ball is live. The committee hopes the new rule will deter players from altering the fit of their helmets and encourage schools to ensure all players are fitted properly. The NFHS Coach Education Program also offers a free online course called “Concussion in Sports – What You Need to Know,” developed by the NFHS and CDC in May 2010 and taken by more than 700,000 individuals as of December 2012.
At the college level, the Ivy League requires its eight member schools to limit full-contact football practices to two times per week during the fall season and one time per week during the spring, a policy established in 2011. The league also emphasizes educating players about proper tackling techniques, the signs and symptoms of a concussion, and the potential short-term and long-term effects of repeated TBIs.
In professional football, the NFL implemented new concussion rules in January 2011 that require teams to consult with an outside neurologist regarding player concussions. Under the new policy, if a player is “removed for the duration of a practice or game, the player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptotic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant.” A recent study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health suggests professional football players have a three times higher risk of dying from a neurodegenerative disease than the general population, and a four times higher risk of dying from Alzheimer’s disease or ALS, specifically.
Victims of traumatic brain injury may be entitled to compensation if their injury resulted from someone else’s negligence. If you or your loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury in any type of accident, contact an experienced Atlantic City injury attorney today to learn about your legal rights. An Atlantic City injury lawyer will fight for the justice you deserve.