For several decades, researchers have collected and tracked data on serious incidences of catastrophic head, brain and neck injuries in high school and college level sports. This data has been scientifically collected and recorded nationally, from school coaches, athletic trainers and directors, and executive officers of state and national athletic organizations.
In 1984, research from the Annual Survey of Football Injury Research added neck injuries and brain injuries involving permanent disabilities to the fatality data collection effort. Fatal head injuries have been reported in other sports like wrestling, soccer, baseball and track sports in addition to football. Traumatic brain injuries in common contact sports number into hundreds of thousands each year, with football totals exceeding 250,000 concussions alone.
A study of the epidemiology of football related concussions in high school and college sports players released by AMJ Sports Medical, 2000;28:643-650, by Guskiewicz, KM; Weaver, NL; Padua, DA; and Garrett, WE, Jr.; found football players who had concussions in one season were 33.3 percent likely to have a second concussion that same season than any uninjured player.
Repeated concussions occurring in a short time can be fatal. The Center for Disease Control, and Prevention, or CDC, report a high incidence of repeated sports related head injuries. Sports-related traumatic brain injuries occurring annually have reached over 300,000 in the United States.
The mortality and morbidity rate associated in these traumatic head injuries have been called the “silent epidemic” because they are not recognized with the same attention as other neurological illnesses in children and youth.
“Second-impact syndrome”, identifies rapid brain swelling with herniation, which occurs in a second head injury, is increasingly detrimental to athletes. This problem often results in fatal or non-fatal with permanent, severe functional disability in teens and youth.
Injuries related to sports participation are considered to be:
- Direct – resulting from participation in the skills of high school or college sponsored sports.
- Indirect – injuries from systemic failure due to exertion while participating in sports activities or by complications secondary to a non-fatal injury.
Catastrophic injuries are not limited to male sport-related fatalities or permanent disabilities. Gymnastics, cheerleading, field hockey, softball, volleyball and other sports have been associated fatalities and permanent disabilities in female athletic students as well as male athletic students. Fifty percent of catastrophic injuries are related to females participating in cheerleading alone.
A catastrophic injury such as traumatic head or brain injury, spinal cord injury causing paralysis, amputation, compound fractures, blindness or fatal injuries require intensive emergency care, ongoing medical care in non-fatal injuries, and this expensive care may be required for the patient’s entire lifetime.
The expenses of caring for a child with severe and permanent disabilities add substantial impact to a grieving family. Legal representation is a strong solution for helping a family hit with unexpected financial costs when a child is severely disabled or fatally injured during school sports activities.
A case at Caro High School, in Michigan, reported by The New York Times article, October 10, 2014, involved so many football players injured this season alone, that school coaches asked their administrators to cancel the final three games this season. Caro High’s varsity football team lost so many players due to injuries, that 8 Jr. Varsity players were moved up, causing the Jr. Varsity to cancel their season. Several concussions and other injuries causing four players to quit within two weeks. The remaining team members were found to be in danger because they were battling so hard to compensate for the team’s disintegration from top-player injuries.
With all this, community reaction was mixed, and fifty percent of the people said, “You don’t ever quit, kids are soft these days and need to get out there and battle.” This type of mind-set is another reason families with injured children need to seek help from legal representation.
When the vote came down to end the football season early, Mike Joslyn, superintendent of the Caro School system was quoted as saying, “…we’re an educational institution, and with our students, safety comes first. These kids have long lives ahead of them, and we need to keep the brains in their heads intact.”