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Emergency Room Visits for Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s) Are On the Rise. Why?

by The Beasley Firm  |  January 25, 2012  |  

The one thing I always said to my kids while growing up and playing sports is, “just protect your head. We can fix everything else, but the brain can not be casted or fixed.” To date, my girls had broken bones, been casted, and underwent closed reductions and open reductions to repair bone fractures, but it was because they always put their arms out to protect their head whenever they could.

Within the past 10 years, emergency department visits for sports and recreational-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, has increased by 60 percent among children ages birth to 19 years. It is believed that one of the reasons for the increase in emergency room visits after a head injury is due to the ever growing awareness among coaches, athletic directors, referees, trainers, sport coaches, team physicians and parents about the need for any athlete with a head injury be evaluated by a health care professional.

Each year, brain injuries cause permanent disability or death. Traumatic Brain Injuries or TBI’s account for a third or 30.5% of all injury related deaths per year. On average, out of the 1.7 million people who have suffered a brain injury, 52,000 of them will die and 275,000 are hospitalized, many of them being left with permanent brain damage.

Sports such as basketball, football, ice hockey, boxing, baseball, bicycling, soccer, skateboarding, lacrosse and playground activities are common activities that can cause trauma to the brain. Prevention strategies such as the use of helmets or other protective head gear, appropriate coaching, strict officiating, and more awareness regarding the seriousness of repetitive concussions or head trauma has lead to an increased awareness and treatment of any head trauma or traumatic brain injury.

Many coaches or athletic directors have been taught to remove any athlete from play if there is a suspected head injury until they are evaluated and cleared by a healthcare professional. If an athlete is placed back into play immediately after a head trauma it puts them at high risk for a repeat concussion and additional permanent damage to the brain.

To promote awareness and prevention of traumatic brain injuries, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has developed the Heads Up initiative. The program was designed to educate doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, coaches, athletic directors, teachers, gym coaches, trainers, school nurses and athletes on the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries, minimize head trauma and how to prevent further brain damage.

Even though there has been an increase in the amount of emergency room visits for head injuries, it does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in the amount of traumatic brain injuries, but rather an increase in the awareness of how serious any head injury could be. Unfortunately, not all coaches or athletic directors follow this advice and continue to allow a brain injured athlete to compete or play the sport. Here at the Beasley brain injury law firm, we have represented many athletes who were instructed to return back to the game after a head injury, only to sustain another head injury that resulted in permanent brain damage. We have also represented numerous individuals who suffered TBI’s due to faulty helmets or head gear that was provided to them by a school, sports team or recreation center. If you or your child was injured due to a faulty helmet or not being taken out of play after a head injury, please feel free to call one of experienced lawyers, doctors, or critical care nurses for a strictly confidential and free consultation.

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