It is football season again, which for fans means it’s time for things like singing fight songs, tailgating, eating wings, and drinking beer—outright fun! It is fun for the majority of players too, but the fun may subside if and when a player gets a blow to the head (even with a helmet on). When a player gets their “bell rung,” sports commentators typically refer to them as concussions, but the more accurate medical terminology is traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
What is a TBI?
According to the Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado, “a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of such an injury may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with independent function.”
Mechanism of Traumatic Brain Injuries
As noted in the graphic below, the head in motion stops suddenly. Then the brain compresses into the skull, and compresses again as it rebounds. Therefore, two impacts occur when a person’s head and an object collide. If a player was hit in the front of his head (by another helmet, for example), the initial impact would occur in the front and the second impact would be in the back of his head.
Delays in Diagnosis and Treatment of TBIs
Though the NFL and NCAA mandate concussion safety protocols, the rest of us do not usually have the same care and attention when we get injured. Therefore, many times TBIs (especially mild TBIs) go untreated. For one, the injured person may have more obvious injuries that take medical precedence (e.g., broken leg, lacerations). Secondly, TBI symptoms may not be present or noticed at the time of injury.
The symptoms may be delayed days or weeks before they appear. The symptoms are often subtle and are often missed by the injured person, family and doctors. In fact, people with traumatic brain injuries often look normal, and they do not even realize they have a problem. What gets them to seek medical help is that their family and friends may notice changes in their behavior. Other times, they may realize that things that used to come easy to them are now frustrating or difficult.
Even when someone with a TBI seeks and receives medical attention, the MRI and CAT scans are often “normal.” However, the injured person may have cognitive problems such as fatigue, headache, visual disturbances, difficulty thinking, memory problems, sleep disturbances, attention deficits, mood swings, depression, and frustration that occur right away or linger for many months to years (post-concussion syndrome).
TBIs Occur in the Normal Activities of Daily Life
Concussions, TBIs, and the disease that one can get from repeated TBIs, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), have been in the media spotlight over the last few years, thanks to biographical sports films like, “Concussion.” In fact, more and more parents are concerned about their children playing football. But TBIs happen every single day to people who have never donned a football helmet.
According to the CDC, the three leading causes of TBI are falls (47%), being struck by or against an object (15%), and motor vehicle accidents (14%). While motor vehicle accidents are the third leading cause of TBI, they make up the largest percentage of TBI-related deaths (19%).
In our next blog, we will focus on how slip and fall, motor vehicle, bicycling, or motorcycle accidents can result in traumatic brain injuries and post-concussion syndrome. In the meantime, if you have been injured in an accident, please do not hesitate to get started on getting the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at Mac Hester Law are knowledgeable, experienced, and compassionate. Contact us today for a free consultation.