Concussions and head injuries in sports are making a lot of news. Most people understand the basic idea of the injury but fail to appreciate how serious they actually are.
Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), and they are usually caused by a “bump, blow, or jolt to the head,” according to the Mayo Clinic. When someone suffers from a concussion, the injury actually changes how that person’s brain works.
It is important to know what causes concussions and what signs and symptoms to look for when a loved one suffers a head injury.
According to a set of emergency room statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), concussions are most commonly caused by:
- Motor vehicle-related injuries
- Unintentionally being struck by an object
- Physical assaults
When someone suffers a concussion for the first time, they can lose consciousness or feel generally dazed. Concussion injuries in sports may be more severe, as they tend to happen repeatedly.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
The CDC classifies signs and symptoms of a concussion into four distinct categories:
1. Thinking & Remembering:
Concussion sufferers often have difficulty remembering recent events, or they have a sensation of feeling “mentally foggy.”
2. Physical Pain:
Concussion sufferers may experience physical pain, such as headaches or problems with bright lights.
3. Emotional & Mood:
Concussion sufferers often experience irritability, sadness, and/or anxiousness.
When someone suffers from a concussion, they often sleep more or less than they usually do, or they have trouble falling asleep.
There are also more serious symptoms to watch for, which require immediate medical attention:
- Signs of weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination;
- A headache that gets worse and won’t go away;
- Repeated vomiting or nausea;
- Any signs of slurred speech;
- Severe drowsiness;
- One pupil that is larger than the other;
- Convulsions or seizures; and/or
- Loss of consciousness.
Multiple Concussions, CTE, and Football Head Injuries
As the NFL Concussion Lawsuit makes clear – multiple concussions are extremely harmful, and they pose lifelong dangers to those athletes who suffer from more than one TBI. Recent medical evidence has shown that multiple concussions can lead to a degenerative disease that is primarily seen in athletes who play contact sports.
Researchers at Boston University have been studying head trauma and its connection to athletes, and they’ve found that this degenerative disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), causes serious brain damage that can lead to death. Current research usually only allows CTE to be diagnosed postmortem, but researchers are certain that it is linked to a history of concussions. Research continues at BU’s Center for Athlete Brain Study and Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Upon their deaths and subsequent autopsies, the brains of many professional athletes—football players in particular—have shown evidence of CTE. Notable cases include former NFL players; Junior Seau, Dave Duerson, Terry Long, and Andre Waters.
The signs and symptoms of CTE are different from the signs of a single concussion. Often, signs of CTE include severe changes in mood and behavior. These can be indicated by depression, anxiety, and acts of aggression. In addition, CTE sufferers may experience memory loss, cognitive impairment, and motor disturbances, according to BU researchers.
It’s important to keep in mind that CTE doesn’t only affect professional athletes. Football players in high school and college, as well as athletes in other contact sports, are also at risk of multiple concussions and CTE.
Brain Injury Lawsuits—How to File?
If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury from a concussion, an experienced personal injury attorney at The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP can answer your questions. Contact us today to discuss your case.