Advocates hoping to enact legal changes to prevent sports head injuries usually focus on increased accountability requirements and mandatory steps when those involved in leading the team are given information about a possible traumatic brain injury. For example, a new California law requires high school coaches to look for the often subtle signs that a brain injury-like a concussion-has been suffered. The law essentially requires coaches to have a basic level of knowledge about spotting concussion and to take action to pull a player out to rest if those signs are spotted.
As we have explained, incredibly serious risks are taken when a player continues to play after suffering a concussion. As one neuropsychologist in the area explained, a chemical imbalance in the brain created by the traumatic impact on the head often leads to problems in parts of the brain connected to learning and memory. The imbalance causes a drop in brain blood-flow, meaning that the brain is not receiving the nutrients it needs. He continues by remarking, “That is why it’s so important that right after the injury happens that the brain get rest. Rest, rest, and more rest.”
Interestingly, the doctor also suggested that mental rest means much more than simply not going back into the game for awhile. He also suggested that things like computer use and TV viewing be curtailed. In addition, intense academic studying should be stopped during this time, because these activities require brain exertion which uses nutrients needed to correct the imbalance. The neuropsychologist admitted than even doctors sometimes make the mistake of having concussion victims go back into the classroom too soon after the injury. Instead, the doctor recommends that consistent tests be given to monitor the recovery. These tests usually involve memory games with verbal and visual cues.
Sadly, when the concussion is not noticed at all, players are not given any time to heal. That means not only do they keep playing-risking a life-threatening second-impact injury-but they exert their mind in the classroom and via other stimuli. As a result, their brains often never heal at all. This could lead to lifetime of performance problems and even emotional damage. The laws passed essentially seek to eliminate these risks by making it more likely for a concussion to be identified.
Unfortunately, each Chicago brain injury attorney at our firm understands that passing a law is one thing, getting it to actually be following 100% of the time is another. It is likely that many coaches, administrators, trainers, and others will fail to abide by provisions put in place to keep players safe. When they don’t act appropriately and a health problem develops, then the law provides an avenue for recourse. For those obstinate individuals who don’t take the issue seriously, it is usually only after they are held accountable via a brain injury lawsuit, that they finally take the seriousness of the situation to heart. It is only then that our players will truly be as safe as possible when on the field, pitch, or rink.
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