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High School Athletic Director Talks About Death of Football Player from Head Injury

WSYR News reported today on developments in the tragic story involving the young high school football player who died after suffering a head injury during a school football game. The entire community was shocked to learn that the young man had passed away from his injuries as he was being treated from the football head injury at a local hospital. His passing was made all the more surprising for those who were watching the game, because the young man seemed to be talking to those nearby and without injuries that appeared life-threatening.

However, our Illinois brain injury lawyers know that one of the unique risks posed by head trauma is that fact that they may cause severe damage that is not readily apparent. In addition, the injury can actually arise even when the specific trauma appears slight. In the football context, that means that severe harm may arise, even though a player seemingly is not hit hard at all. That appears to be what happened in this most recent case according to the school’s athetic director. He explained that the coaches and staff reviewed the film of the game and could not identify a single, major hit that likely caused the trouble. The victim was not even involved in the play after which he fell to the ground. The student was involved in a few other plays before that one, but there was not any particularly violent collision in any of them. Instead, the young man simply experienced the basic contact found in the game.

One medical expert in the area explained that there are no easy answers when it comes to understanding what happened in this case. He explained, “It doesn’t even have to be a head injury. If we’re running fast enough and hit, and just inside your helmet, you brain does one of those little shakes…that is all it takes.” The lack of contact necessary to cause potentially life-threatening injuries in these games comes as a shock to many parents who never knew how risky some of these most physical games could be.

The increasing medical awareness of the seriousness of these injuries has led many states to strengthen their guidelines for high school sports. There is also action on the national level. Congress has recently put pressure on the makers of football equipment to enact changes that will reduce injuries and better explain safety risks to those involved in these activities. Football helmets in particular must be reconditioned consistently to ensure they provide the protection players need. Many school districts are also imposing stricter rest periods for those players that experience a head injury. It is advisable for those athletes who experience a concussion to sit out of activities for a week after symptoms subside. The rest period needs to be even greater for all those who suffer a second concussion. Failure to properly account for these risks often unnecessarily risks more severe harm resulting from the sports head injury.

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