Head trauma in young people is a growing concern, with 3.8 million concussions reported each year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of disability and death in children and adolescents in the United States. According to the CDC, the two age groups at greatest risk for TBI are 0-4 and 15-19.
It’s enough of a worry that the governing body of youth football is changing the sport’s guidelines to reduce the risk of head injuries. Even with protected gear, repeated head blows have been shown to cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This condition is linked to repeated head trauma and can result in long-term brain damage and neural degeneration, causing a host of side effects that can deeply impact victims and their families.
A 24-year-old former football player from Des Moines, Zac Easter, took his own life in 2015 due to the effects of CTE. He wanted the world to know that repeated concussions were the cause of his death, and at his request, his brain was sent to the California neuropathologist who discovered CTE.
Easter is just one of a long list of football players who have died as a result of CTE. Tyler Sash, who played for the New York Giants, as well as Kenny Stabler, the former Oakland Raiders quarterback, are two others who had CTE when they died.
It is important to remember that not every bump on the head is a concussion, and not every concussion is cause for an emergency. Still, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of TBI and the appropriate actions to take, should you or someone you love suffer a blow to the head.
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Knowing When to Seek Medical Attention
It’s a good idea to always see a doctor after a head injury, no matter how inconsequential it may seem at the time. Severe and immediate symptoms, such as losing consciousness, may present themselves immediately for a few moments after a more serious head trauma.
However, even if the person doesn’t experience loss of consciousness, they can still develop concussion symptoms in the following hours or days. For these reasons, it’s crucial to follow up with a medical professional, including any check-ups, examinations, or laboratory work.
Most signs or symptoms of a concussion are evident soon after the traumatic event.
Some general symptoms include:
- Headaches or neck pain that does not go away
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
- Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading
- Getting lost or easily confused
- Feeling tired all the time, having no energy or motivation
- Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason)
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping)
- Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance
- Urge to vomit (nausea)
- Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Ringing in the ears
In younger children, look for:
- Tiredness or listlessness
- Irritability or crankiness
- Changes in eating (will not eat or nurse)
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in the way the child plays
- Changes in performance at school
- Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities
- Loss of new skills, such as toilet training
- Loss of balance or unsteady walking
Depending on the symptoms and how they present, your healthcare provider may recommend a CT scan (computed tomography), an MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging), or a period of observation. It’s important to continue to monitor yourself or your child after a head injury for the above changes.
Although injury cannot always be avoided, the risk of serious trauma can be reduced with good safety precautions. These include using protective headgear when performing sports, riding a bicycle, and other activities with a potential for head trauma.
If someone experiences head trauma as a consequence of someone else’s lack of care or failure to protect others, it may legally be considered a breach of duty. In this case, it’s advisable to speak with a qualified attorney who can direct you toward the best course of action.
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Knowing When to Seek Legal Advice
While minor cuts, bumps, and bruises are common in children, teenagers, and athletes of all ages, the effects of TBI and CTE can have devastating consequences if not treated appropriately. Treatments for these conditions can be costly in themselves, not to mention the pain and suffering, medical bills, and lifetime cost for those who continue to suffer symptoms long after the initial injury.
Knowing your legal rights in this situation is also critical to ensure that you receive the best care possible. Should you suffer a concussion due to someone else’s negligence, a traumatic brain injury attorney can discuss with you what potential compensation might be available to you.
Our law firm proudly serves a number of New York State and New York City communities and is experienced handling all types of brain injury lawsuits.
If you or someone you care about has been injured, contact Rosenberg & Gluck, personal injury attorneys, for a free, confidential legal consultation to learn more about your options.