Posted On December 21, 2016 In Personal Injury
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics show sports and recreational activities are responsible for 3.8 million concussions each year. While football is responsible for a portion of this number, other sports also cause concussions. Horseback riding, soccer, water polo and other sports can also put high school students at risk for sports-related brain injuries.
In Texas, there are more than 800,000 student athletes. To improve the safety of these athletes, the University Interscholastic League and the O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern Medical Center are launching the nation’s largest brain injury tracking program. This program will track brain injuries in 24 different sports at more than 1,400 middle and high schools in Texas. Researchers will look into why injuries happen, how long it takes student athletes to recover, and how to prevent future concussions.
The program will also test the effectiveness of existing concussion prevention laws and programs. Texas has rules for concussion screening for student athletes attending public schools. In our state, we have Natasha’s Law, which requires an athlete to be removed if they are believed to have suffered a concussion. The new concussion tracking program will use its findings to weigh the effectiveness of Natasha’s Law and other rules. In addition, this new program will look at whether concussion recovery programs are effective.
Texas’ new screening program is important because it may help prevent some of these injuries from occurring in the first place. By preventing concussions, schools can help students avoid serious and possibly fatal health complications.
Until recently, concussions were considered a minor injury. Concussions are anything but minor. Athletes can suffer from post-concussion syndrome, chronic traumatic encephalopathy and second-impact syndrome. The latter condition is often fatal, but it can result in severe disability.
Second-impact syndrome is a rare but life-threatening health complication caused by suffering one concussion, and then another shortly afterwards. The condition has received attention from the press for causing deaths and severe brain damage.
In 2006, an Indiana high school football player suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit during a game. According to the teenager’s parents, their son complained of a severe headache for days afterwards. His parents took him to a doctor to receive a CT scan, but there were no signs of trauma. Days later, the teenager returned to practice and took another hit to the shoulder. Within minutes, he suffered a seizure. The severe brain swelling caused by second-impact syndrome left the teenager unable to walk on his own, and robbed him of his short-term memory.
If Texas researchers can find more effective ways to prevent or identify concussions, they may have luck preventing future cases of second-impact syndrome and other serious health conditions.
In the mean time, school have an obligation to keep student athletes safe. Trainers and coaches must identify athletes with concussions and remove them from play.
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