Is participating in sports becoming a major threat to the health and welfare of our youth? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta thinks so, and is expressing concern about an increase in traumatic brain injuries among this population. According to their statistics, these injuries have increased by 60 percent between 2001 and 2009. The government agency’s hope is that by raising awareness of these dangers, they can reduce the number of such injuries sustained each year.
The Professional Player Impact
Over the last several years, high profile lawsuits against the National Football League and the National Hockey League have helped to highlight the dangers sports present in causing traumatic brain injuries. Unfortunately, several suicides by former professional athletes have also highlighted the problem. They are not alone: United States service men and women returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are reporting a very high incidence of traumatic brain injuries.
Despite acknowledging just how common these injuries can be, doctors and researchers in the United States are only now beginning to understand the complex pathology behind such injuries and their potential long-term effects. Whereas injuries such as concussions used to be considered an unavoidable part of the game and hardly a reason to miss a minute of action, now concussions are believed to be at the root of some more serious neurological problems developing in people as adults, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, among others.
Growing Awareness, Changing Perceptions
The CDC has stated that it believes that the public perception of brain injuries, whether mild or traumatic, must change in order to reduce their occurrence. Changing our perceptions of such injuries has worked in the past—most notably when the CDC worked with carmakers to reduce head injuries in car accidents, leading to a reduction of almost forty percent since 1980—so the agency has every reason to believe that it can work again.
A concussion is now being taken more seriously on the sidelines of professional sports including football, boxing, hockey, and many sports under the control of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). New safety measures and protocols are being developed to help protect athletes from experiencing brain injuries during play and from seeing those injuries develop into something far more serious later in life.
Concussion awareness programs for medical professionals can help to improve procedures for both diagnosis and treatment, and continued research into the mysteries of the brain, may mitigate future traumatic brain injuries, but in some instances they cannot be avoided.
Contact a Brain Injury Attorney
If you believe you or a loved one has experienced a traumatic brain injury at the hands of another party, seek medical help immediately, and consider speaking with a legal professional who is experienced in handling cases involving brain injury.