State College News reported this week on the continuing problems of detecting brain injuries and the significant risks that they post to those affected. The article was the second in a three part series examining the brain injury risks for college athletes. Our Chicago brain injury lawyers have previously reported on pending lawsuits filed by NCAA players alleging harm suffered as a result of brain injuries.
The Science Behind the Trauma
While awareness about these dangers is growing, most are still unclear about the science behind the trauma. Each Illinois brain injury attorney at our firm appreciate the importance of understanding the way that these injuries strike. That is because they often fly under the radar, hidden until it is too late to reverse the underlying harm.
Studies show repeatedly that repetitive blows to the head can have serious long-term consequences. Yet many athletes who suffer these injuries–particularly at the high school, college, and professional level–are cautioned to just “shake it off,” instead of getting the treatment and rest they need. The word of cutting edge researchers, however, present unmistakable evidence of the need to get away from the “shake it off” mindset.
Neurologists, opthalmologists, and other specialists continue to show in different ways how repeated head trauma–concussions–can be silent and deadly. This was evidenced recently by the suicide of former NFL great Junior Seau. Far from a head injury resulting in a serious one-time fatal event, the trauma can build up and cause mental health issues over time.
The mental health consequences are perhaps even more risky, because they may not manifest themselves until it is too late. In other words, our brain injury lawyers know that the information means that proactive steps must be taken as soon as possible to prevent those most susceptible from developing the injury before they strike.
For this reason, the article quotes a brain injury expert as noting that “mild” is never applicable to brain injuries: “A brain injury is a brain injury no matter if you’re an older adult or a kid. The brain is going to react in a standard way no matter what age you are.”
However, the doctor notes that there are different ways that the injury can manifest. Younger children may experience memory problems with challenges in school. Older athletes could have more headaches
An added problem, explains the doctor, is proper identification of the injury. A concussion cannot yet be identified by an x-ray. MRIs also have trouble picking up the problem, because a concussion does not come with a hemorrhage in the brain. Experimental MRI techniques are able to pick up some concussions, but they are not widely used. All of this means that there is much confusion among patients, who may misunderstand a normal CAT scan or MRI result as indicating a clean bill of health. That is not necessarily true. These tools cannot diagnose, and so rest may still be needed even following normal test results.
Be sure to keep a close eye on loved ones who play contact sports to ensure that they receive the rest and treatment they need after suffering a potential brain injury.
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