The beginning of autumn is the beginning of many popular sports in the United States. Unfortunately, it is also the beginning of worry about the risk of traumatic brain injury for many parents and athletes. Recently, the NCAA has agreed to settle its lawsuits from former and current athletes alleging that their brain injuries were caused by participation in NCAA-sanctioned sports. Many of these athletes participated in football, although news reports state that athletes from what is known as contact sports were all involved in the suit, including ice hockey, soccer, and lacrosse. The players alleged that they were under the control of their schools and that the school determined when the players must return to playing after a head injury.
The lawsuit estimates that about 29,000 athletes between 2004 and 2009 suffered brain injuries. The settlement will only pay for the costs of obtaining brain scans for the athletes during this period and is not meant to fully compensate past athletes. As a part of the settlement, the NCAA will provide more guidance to schools about detecting and treating for such injuries even though they are not admitting any fault.
As with the NFL lawsuit reaching a huge settlement for current and former players, the NHL is also in the midst of its own lawsuit. Like the NFL lawsuit, former NHL players allege that the league concealed the dangers of brain injuries and did not try to reduce their instance for players. With professional play, an athlete may sustain head injuries over years, leading to increased problems. A lack of awareness over the issue leads players to continue to unknowingly place themselves at risk.
These suits coincide with the recent rise in emergency room visits due to the occurrence of traumatic brain injuries. One of the reasons cited for the increase is the participation in sports. Many of these brain injuries are in the form of concussions, usually very mild. However, as stated earlier whenever even mild concussions are repeatedly sustained they can add up to severe brain damage over time which can lead to constant headaches and changes to personality.
If an athlete has sustained an injury, it is important for them to seek medical attention immediately. Many colleges and teams have their own medical staff, but it is wise to seek a second medical opinion from someone who is not connected to having the player remain on the team.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.