Posted On September 4, 2017 In Personal Injury
Many Texans consider football to be an important part of our culture. Plenty of movies and books have been written that describe Texas football culture in detail. However, this is a sport that should be treated with both respect and caution. In some cases, football concussions can put players at risk of suffering permanent brain damage.
A new study released by Boston University discovered that brain health can decline after several years of playing the sport. Researchers at Boston University examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. According to the results, 87 percent had signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease that was first discovered in 2005 by Dr. Bennet Omalu. The condition can develop overtime after suffering multiple concussions. What makes the Boston University study alarming is that some of the brains examined belonged to athletes who had only played high school football. However, they still showed signs of CTE.
If you saw the movie Concussion starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, then you may already be somewhat familiar with the debilitating symptoms caused by CTE. For example, people suffering from CTE may be more prone to apathy, depression and substance abuse. They can also suffer from short-term memory loss or impulsive behavior. Unsurprisingly, many of the symptoms of CTE have been compared to dementia. CTE is irreversible and the symptoms caused by the disease can worsen over time, especially when additional concussions occur.
In addition to CTE, football concussions can also cause second-impact syndrome. Second-impact syndrome occurs when a player suffers two back-to-back concussions within a short timeframe. While this condition is exceedingly rare, it is responsible for several deaths and cases of severe brain damage. Athletes who survive second-impact syndrome can require specialized medical care for life.
Many states, including Texas, have laws that are designed to prevent second-impact syndrome. In Texas, we have Natasha’s Law. Coaches and athletic directors in our state are required to undergo training that can help them identify players with concussion symptoms. After they are identified, these athletes are removed until they are cleared to return to play.
If a high school athlete is suspected of having a concussion injury, then they should be removed from the field and examined by a medical professional. An athlete with severe concussion symptoms may take days or weeks to recover before it is safe to return to playing.
While Texas football (and arguably other sports) are very competitive, the desire to win a game should never jeopardize the safety of our young athletes. There are cases where the school or athletic program could be held accountable when players are injured.