Brain injuriesWhy Footballers Are at Risk from Brain Damage

April 28, 20240

Football is a contact sport where massive players collide with each other multiple times during a game. These collisions lead to dangerous situations that have concerned professional players, coaches, stakeholders, and doctors for years. Even though it might seem obvious that such collisions can lead to body and brain damage, it has taken too long for players and stakeholders to come to terms with how dangerous the sport is.

With studies into the effects of the game and how dangerous it can be are continuing, doctors and researchers have uncovered high rates of traumatic brain injuries, brain disorders, and concussions. Here we will look at what puts football players at a high risk of brain injury.

Concussions are Worryingly Common

The brain sits in the skill and even though it sits still most of the time, it has some room to move. Such movement can happen when a player experiences a sudden jolt or blow to the head.

The first situation can occur when a running player is tackled by another, causing them to stop and for the brain to keep moving inside the skull due to the conservation of momentum. The second occurs when players’ heads or helmets collide during a game.

When this happens, the brain hits the inside of the skull, leading to an injury known as a concussion. The severity of the injury depends on the force of the impact. It can cause brain bruising, the neurons can get stretched and damaged, and brain chemistry can get out of alignment.

Players receive medical attention on the field if a concussion is suspected, but they should still get medical attention following such injuries. The most common symptoms of a concussion include disorientation and loss of consciousness following an incident, sensitivity to light and sounds, headaches, sluggishness, confusion, and memory loss. These symptoms can last from a few days to a few months.

In addition to their symptoms and the potential for brain damage, concussions are also incredibly dangerous because they increase the probability of getting another one. Subsequent concussions come with symptoms that get increasingly worse and last increasingly longer.

Multiple concussions can lead to depression, personality changes, and an increased risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Subconcussive Hits are Also Common

The bigger hits in football lead to concussions as discussed above. However, players should also be concerned about subconcussive hits. These are smaller hits that do little damage and do not rise to the level of concussions. However, their effects accumulate over time and can cause symptoms and eventual brain damage.

Their health concerns are true in the short and long term, from days to years. These concerns and the risks such hits pose are more pronounced in people who receive small hits frequently, and football players fit this description perfectly.

Repetitive Hits Can Lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is directly linked to subconcussive hits, with the former resulting from years of repetitive hits. CTE is characterized by the accumulation of a protein known as tau, which is believed to be dislodged from brain fibers after injuries caused by subconcussive hits. These proteins clump together when they accumulate in the brain, blocking the transmission and processing of critical information.

CTE can cause serious symptoms, including parkinsonism, aggression, impulse control issues, impaired judgment, confusion, memory loss, and progressive dementia. This condition is difficult to diagnose for two reasons. First of all, its symptoms overlap with many other symptoms, including multiple concussions over long periods and different dementias. Second, there is no way to observe the brain closely unless in an autopsy. So, even though doctors might think someone has CTE, there is no definitive way to know.

There is no treatment for CTE since it is a progressive condition. Because of the impact it has on a player’s life, they can sue for compensation, but doing so will require a direct connection between the condition and someone’s negligence or between it and a defective product.

The Potential for Cerebral Microbleeds

Numerous companies, including Toshiba, have been working on technology that helps detect microbleeds, which are microscopic bleeds in the brain. These bleeds present the potential for larger bleeding that can cause severe brain damage or even death if not treated immediately and properly.

Crucially, cerebral microbleeds in football players and other athletes who engage in contact sports point to the potential for CTE, which we know causes brain damage and debilitating symptoms.

While there is no treatment for these microbleeds, studies have found that they can heal on their own if the player does not experience any more concussive hits. This means they would have to retire if they do not want to keep increasing their risk of CTE and other brain disorders as they grow older.

They Start Playing Young

Recently, many parents said they would not let their children play football. Why? Recent studies show that the risk of brain damage and CTE is directly related to how young a person starts playing football.

They show that children who start playing football at the age of 12 are more likely to suffer from brain damage earlier than their peers. They also show that repetitive head impact, as happens in football, affects the neurodevelopmental trajectories of these children, leading them to have neurological issues earlier in life.

Lack of Proper Protective Equipment

The conditions and factors discussed above are all related to hits to the head. It therefore follows that providing better protective headgear can help prevent them. However, that is not always the case for all football players.

Football helmets do a great job at absorbing impact, but they are primarily made to prevent skull fractures and not concussions. Additionally, these helmets can fail to protect adequate shock absorption for skull protection, leading to an increased risk of traumatic brain injuries.

Football remains dangerous despite the measures stakeholders have in place to protect players. The contact the sport calls for increases the risk of concussions, head trauma, and other injuries that lead to brain damage as players progress in their careers. There is also the potential for different sports injuries in football that can lead to traumatic brain injuries.

Players injured playing the sport can seek compensation if their injuries are due to someone else’s negligent actions. You can talk to our attorneys at the law offices of Daniel T. Pagliarini so we can help you seek compensation.

You can visit our office if you have been injured playing football to discuss your case. Find us at: 700 Bishop St, Ste 2100, Honolulu, HI, 96813.

You can also call now for a free and confidential consultation at (808) 745-1592.

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