When we think about sports related concussions we generally conjure images of NFL players on any given Sunday. However, our children are just as susceptible to concussions on the local optimist or city team.
Recently a rash of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of retired NFL players claiming permanent brain injury due to concussions suffered on the field. Interestingly, the NFL even formed the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee to study this issue as far back as1994. Medical evidence is now clearly demonstrating that repeated sports related head trauma may lead to lasting and permanent neurological issues. These issues include depression, memory loss, dementia and other cognitive deficits. Most recently Junior Seau, a former Dolphin player, committed suicide. Seau had suffered many concussions prior to his retirement and was cleared to play each time.
We must remain mindful that these types of injuries are not limited to professional football players. Our children play tackle football year in and year out. We worry about broken bones, bruises and cuts, but we forget that those developing brains are being rattled inside of their skull with every hard impact. Some of the players are diagnosed with concussions and pulled out of the game, while other players are sent back into the game after a hard blow and told to “suck it up!” As parents and coaches we must be mindful to protect our children from life altering injuries that may not manifest for years to come. So how do we protect our children?
Our children love football and sports (basketball, soccer, hockey, etc.) in general. It is healthy for them to participate in sports. However, concentrating on football in particular, we need to make sure they have the appropriate equipment to protect them. Helmets have recently been a theme of controversy relative to the protection they provide. Unfortunately, most local teams do not always have the best helmets to protect the head or brain. against trauma. As parents and coaches we must do everything possible to provide the greatest protection to our children.
We all love to go to the field and watch our children play. Some of us have even been accused of such excitement that it resulted in a technical foul being called against our own team. DO NOT RISK THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF OUR CHILDREN by sending them back onto the field if they have been injured. We do want our children to be tough and learn to work through adversity, but this should never come at the risk of additional or permanent injury.
What if your child has suffered a concussion and the coaches continue to send them out to play? If grown men with fully developed brains have suffered continuing brain trauma couldn’t the same be true for our children? Have the coaches and the leagues or schools for which your children play swept this danger under the rug much like the NFL? Have they made it seem like it’s perfectly safe for them to play contact sports and the releases are just a formality? If your children have suffered concussions in a game, you should contact his or her pediatrician and have them evaluated. You should also see a lawyer with experience in personal injury to determine whether your child should be compensated for the years of uncertainty that lie ahead due to traumatic brain injury.
Clearly, there are many sports programs that take great precautions to protect our children, and this is not to suggest that all football coaches and programs are disinterested in the health and welfare of our kids. However, only a professional attorney with expertise in this particular area will be able to make a determination as to whether your child was reasonably protected.
For a list of approved helmets and their safety ratings, Click here.
For a list of frequently asked brain injury questions, click here.
For a list of brain injury resources, Click here.