New studies released have found that traumatic brain injury may occur more often than researchers initially believed, and that even mild brain injuries can cause significant damage that results in thinking and memory problems. An injury to the head does not have to be severe for damage to occur, according to researchers. The Brain Injury Association of Kansas reports that over five million Americans currently live with disabilities related to a brain injury.
Recent Traumatic Brain Injury Study
The most recent research, conducted at Newcastle University, studied patients who had suffered mild head injuries due to common accidents, such as bicycle falls or minor car accidents. In 90 percent of the cases, traumatic brain injuries were found to be mild to moderate. During the study, 53 people with mild to moderate brain injury were compared to 33 people who had no diagnosis of brain injury. Patients who were diagnosed with injury were tested about six days after the injury and 23 of them were tested again one year later. Researchers found that, compared to those without injury, the patients with mild to moderate injury had damage to the white matter in their brains, which disrupted nerve axions.
NFL Player Case
In 2014, two former NFL players filed a lawsuit against the NFL Players Association for failing to protect them from suffering traumatic brain injury. Christian Ballard, who played two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings, and Gregory Westbrooks, who played seven seasons for the New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams, claim that the association covered up the consequences of traumatic brain injury, failing to warn players of the possible long-term neurological damage from repeated brain injuries. This lawsuit is separate from one settled by the NFL in July 2014 in which 4,500 retired players, including players who were members of the Kansas City Chiefs in the late 1980s and early 1990s, who claimed the league did not warn them that concussions could lead to neurological damage and traumatic brain injury. In both lawsuits, the players wanted compensation for neurological damage they sustained due to head injuries. Some of the retired players were diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, while others suffered from other issues related to traumatic brain injury.
Kansas Legislation on Youth Sports
The NFL lawsuits have cast a spotlight on the incidence of traumatic brain injury in all sports, especially among high school athletes. In 2010, a Kansas high school junior died due to a brain hemorrhage that doctors say was caused by a concussion he suffered in a game a month prior to his death. During his autopsy, it was discovered that the student suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease found almost exclusively among boxers and retired professional football players, which is caused by repeated blows to the head. In July 2011, new legislation took effect in Kansas designed to limit the severity of concussions in school sports. The law requires any Kansas student who suffers, or is suspected to have suffered, a concussion, to be removed immediately from the game. In addition, the student may not be permitted to play again until a medical provider has provided written clearance to the coach. It is important to note that traumatic brain injuries occur in all types of sports, not just football, with reports of cheerleaders, basketball and soccer players all diagnosed with head injuries during competitions. In addition, regulations from the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioning Association do not allow members to use any equipment that is more than ten years old, including helmets, to further protect student athletes in Kansas and other states.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, or if a loved one has died after suffering a brain injury, it is important to discuss the circumstances with an experienced attorney. Contact the American Injury Attorney Group today for a free consultation to determine what options you may have regarding the injury. If you decide to pursue a claim, we can also connect you with an affiliated attorney who can assist you in filing a lawsuit. Contact us today to learn more.