Calls for increased awareness of traumatic brain injuries seem cliché to those of us who work in the area day in and day out. Each Chicago brain injury attorney at our firm works on these issues every single day, and so it sometimes comes as a surprise when we read stories about the public being unaware of the prevalence of these injuries. To those who spend each day reading news stories about brain injuries and working with Illinois brain injury victims, the scope of the problem is almost second nature.
But of course most community members do not work on this topic every day. That is why continued efforts to raise awareness of the risks of traumatic brain injury and prevention measures are appropriate. A new story in the Post Bulletin said just that. The article shares the story of a young 17-year old high school women’s basketball player. Last week the girl put on her uniform, stepped out onto the court and stayed just long enough for the tip off before exiting the court. The move was a symbolic one-a final moment on the court for the high school senior who had once graced the gym as a star player. She even had offers to play college sports because of her natural athletic ability.
However, those days were behind her, as a string of concussions on the court eventually led her to step back from the game lest she risk permanent long-term injury and even death. As often happens in these games, some players face not just one brain injury, but several. The girl in this case experienced at least four traumatic brain injuries over a four year period while playing basketball and soccer. At the end, it became clear that she could no longer risk the potential harm that the head trauma offered. Along with her family she made the wise decision not to risk permanent harm and backed away from the games. It was undoubtedly a hard moment, but likely a wise decision.
As the article notes, traumatic brain injuries remain for more prevalent that the average resident understands. As a result of the misapprehension about these injuries, many young athletes continue to play without allowing the injury to recover, leading to permanent brain damage. The brain damage is often subtle, such that problems faced by the victim are attributed to inherent mental deficiencies are personality issues.
Just last week a new Mayo Clinic Epidemiology Project study found that these injuries are at least 60% more common than even medical professionals once thought. This latest report, published in the journal Epidemiology, found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously estimated that 341 people out of every 100,000 suffered a TBI. But that number was found to drastically underestimate the problem. Mayo experts studied various county records over a period of decades and found the figure to be far higher. The actual number is likely nearly 560 people per 100,000. This suggests that not only is the general public likely underestimating the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries, but those well-versed in the subject are as well.
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