traumatic brain injury in sports

Traumatic Brain Injuries In Sports

Sports are a fun and healthy form of both recreation and physical fitness for adults and children alike. However, with all of the benefits of sports also comes the risk of serious injuries. Athletes, especially those who play sports for a living, suffer from various injuries on a regular basis, such as broken bones, fractures and strains. One common type of sports injury that can significantly impact all aspects of the athlete’s life is a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

What Is TBI?

A traumatic brain injury is defined as damage to part of the brain caused by an extreme or serious mechanical force that results in brain dysfunction. In most cases, especially those involving a mild TBI, the signs and symptoms of the medical condition may not immediately surface, making the condition less likely to be diagnosed soon after the accident.

If you or a loved one has been involved in any type of accident that involved a blow or jolt to the head and have experienced any of the following signs or symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Unusual headaches
  • Dizziness or disorientation
  • Seizure or convulsions
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Agitation
  • Memory loss
  • Challenges in oral and/or written communication
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or following directions
  • Slurred speech
  • Depression

The severity of a traumatic brain injury can range from a mild concussion to a severe trauma that results in permanent and life altering disabilities. As such, if you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a TBI, it is important that you seek immediate medical care and get properly diagnosed, treated and monitored.

The TBI Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2.5 million emergency department visits, hospitalizations or deaths are associated with TBI each year in the United States. In 2009, an estimated 248,418 young adults were treated in emergency rooms for sports related injuries that included a diagnosis of a concussion or TBI. Unfortunately, thousands of other sports related TBI cases go unreported each year.

In sports, common types of forces that may result in a traumatic brain injury include:

  • Getting hit by an object, such as a bat or a ball
  • Physical contact with another player
  • Hitting your head on the ground, pole or any other object
  • Getting jolted so your brain shakes inside your skull

The majority of sports related TBIs care caused by not having appropriate safety equipment, failing to medically asses athletes on the field, allowing athletes to return to play after a TBI, and encouraging physical contact and rough play on the field.

Call a New York Car Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has suffered a sports-related traumatic brain injury, you may have a valid personal injury claim and be entitled to monetary compensation. For more information or to consult with one of our experienced New York sports-related TBI attorneys, please call Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. at 1-800-529-9997.


Severe TBI Causes Melatonin drop with Insomnia

In the May 25, 2010 issue of Neurology, Australian physician J.A. Shekleton, M.D., and colleagues published an article regarding their study of the sleep patterns of people with severe TBI. The researchers had 23 people who had sustained a severe TBI an average of 14 months earlier and 23 age-matched, healthy people spend two nights in a sleep lab.

The TBI group took more time to fall asleep (an average of 62 minutes vs. 27 minutes for the control group), spent less time in bed actually sleeping, and spent more time in non-REM sleep (also called dreamless, slow-wave-sleep). The researchers found that people in the TBI group produced less melatonin in the evening hours than people in the control group. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain which is supposed to increase at night (in concert with growing darkness) to signal the body to go to sleep.

Progesterone for TBI going into Phase III Clinical Trials

Progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone found in both genders. The brain is loaded with progesterone receptors. Dr. David Wright, associate professor of emergency medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, is an expert on using progesterone in the emergency room to treat new cases of TBI. In an earlier 3 year trial on 100 patients he demonstrated that emergency treatment with progesterone reduced mortality by 50% in cases of severe TBI while improving functional outcome and reducing disability in people with moderate TBI.

Now the National Institute of Health has funded a grant to Emory University to conduct phase III clinical trials of progesterone on patients with TBI at 17 medical centers across the country. The study will enroll approximately 1,140 patients over a 3-6 year period beginning in March 2010. Dr. Wright will lead the study and Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital will serve as the lead medical center with faculty from Emory School of Medicine and Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Wright said that no new treatment for severe TBI had been approved in the past 30 years and he is very excited about the promise of progesterone as a new treatment pending the outcome of the new study.

Synthetic Tumeric Reduces TBI Damage

At this time there is no FDA approved treatment for TBI. Experiments have been done with cooling helmets and hyperbaric oxygen chambers, but these have not led to FDA approval. Physicians keep trying. Recently scientists as the Salk Institute for Biological Study observed that a compound called CNB-001 (the active ingredient in the curry spice tumeric) effectively protected brain cells in animals from damage consequent to ischemic stroke and TBI.

In collaboration with researchers at Cedars-Sinai and UCLA the Salk Institute scientists tested a synthetic derivative of this compound. They found that after inducing ischemic stroke or TBI in animals, and giving them the synthetic tumeric compound, the animals’ behavior was relatively normal. During autopsy they found the brain cells in these animals had been spared much of the damage which normally flows from ischemic stroke and TBI. The compound does not work by dissolving blood clots (like the drug TPA for strokes). Rather it has a direct neuro-protective effect on traumatized brain cells. The study was published in the December 2, 2010 issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry. Research on the compound is still a far way off from any human trials.

Amphetamines for TBI ups the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Some physicians prescribe stimulant containing amphetamines like Dexedrine for people with TBI to increase their wakefulness, energy, and attentional focus. While these are all good benefits, there is a cost to chronic amphetamine use beyond addiction. According to a study released on February 22, 2011 by Stephen K. Van Den Eeden, PhD of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, the chronic use of amphetamines increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 60%.

The study was based on analysis of the health records of 66,348 Kaiser patients between 1964 and 1973 who were evaluated again in 1995. The participants’ average age at the start of the study was 36. In the 1960s it was common to use amphetamines for weight loss. The people in the study who used amphetamines regularly showed a 60% increased risk of developing Parkinson’s. Long term use of amphetamine interferes with the release and absorption of dopamine in the human brain. Hence TBI patients asked to take amphetamines by their physician should weigh this risk with their family and their physician.

Post-Concussive Headache

Seventy percent of people who suffer mild TBI develop. Such headache does not come from bruising of the brain itself, because the brain has no pain fibers. Post-concussive headache can come from bruising of the scalp; stretch injury to the pain nerves in the meninges (the membranes which cover the brain) or the occipital region where the head and neck meet; strain of the muscles in jaw, the neck or both; bulging or tearing of a cervical disc with cervical dysfunction; tension type headache from the stresses of living with a mild TBI; migraine – either newly caused or aggravated from pre-existing frequency or intensity; post-traumatic sinus infection; and even drug induced headache from treatment for your TBI.

Given the multiplicity of potential causes of post-concussive headache following a mild TBI, if you have persistent headache you are best off seeing a Board Certified Neurologist and a Board Certified Physiatrist or Pain Medicine Physician to get properly diagnosed and implement an effective treatment plan. Whichever doctor you use to treat your headache it’s important to work cooperatively, comply with medication recommendations, and keep the doctor promptly informed of any changes in your symptoms.

Concussion Injuries: The Silent Accident Related Injury

After a serious accident, you may not be able to see the initial signs of a concussion. In fact, in most cases the symptoms may not present themselves until several days after the accident. However, it does not mean that this serious condition is not there. If you were involved in a serious accident, such as a motor vehicle accident or a slip and fall accident, it is important to make sure you did not suffer a concussion, even if you did not hit your head.

What Is a Concussion?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a concussion as a type of traumatic brain injury (or TBI) caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Such a sudden movement can cause the brain to violently move around or twist in the skull. This may in turn stretch and damage the brain cells and create a chemical change or imbalance in the brain.

Medical providers often describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury. The reasoning for this description is that although concussions are generally not life threatening, the effect can still be serious.

Symptoms of a Concussion

Concussions are often described as the “silent injury” for the very reason that it has symptoms that are generally invisible immediately after an accident and may take several days or even weeks to surface. As such, most accident victims may not experience the typical symptoms of a concussion injury until days or weeks after the accident, when the condition has gotten significantly worse.

Concussions can be difficult to diagnose without the help of an experienced medical provider who knows exactly what to look for and what tests to order. If you notice any of the following symptoms after an accident, it is important to seek immediate medical attention:

  • Vomiting or the constant feeling of nausea
  • Frequent headaches and dizziness
  • Eyesight trouble or double vision
  • Any degree of loss of memory
  • Being in a daze or confused
  • Ringing in the ears

Compensation for Concussion Injuries

Concussions were not always given the same serious attention as other brain and close head injuries. However, with more research and knowledge, the true impact of a concussion injury is now more clearly understood. While concussions are often the result of a sports injury, victims of other accidents may also suffer such a serious medical condition.

Regardless of what caused your concussion, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. To ensure that you obtain the full money damages that you deserve, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of a third party and have suffered a concussion or any other serious injury as a result, you should call New Jersey concussion attorney Dan Matrafajlo at 908-248-4404 for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.

Acupressure Improves Cognitive Performance in Mild TBI Patients

A University of Colorado Boulder study published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma indicates that Jin Shin acupressure treatment (in which fingertip pressure is applied to instead of acupuncture needles) can improve cognitive function in people with mild TBI. The mild TBI group treated by an expert with acupressure to 26 points on the body from head to toe showed improved attention and working memory on neuropsychological testing. The placebo group which was treated by a non-expert with acupressure to random points on the body showed no cognitive improvement. The treated group also showed more rapid brain activity in response to testing than the placebo group.

Funded by the Colorado Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund, the study is believed to be one of the first placebo-controlled studies ever published in a peer-reviewed medical journal showing the benefit of acupressure to treat patients with TBI, Hernandez said. The Jin Shin acupressure treatment can be taught to family and friends of those with TBI and can even be used as a self-treatment, which could allow for more independence said lead study author Theresa Hernandez, Ph.D.

Any TBI (Even Mild) Raises Your Risk of Death for 13 Years

In March 2011 researchers in Glasgow, Scotland, reported in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry that people with a of death for 13 years following their injury. They tracked 2,000 people (757 of whom had a Traumatic Brain Injury) who were admitted to one of five Glasgow hospitals between 1995-1996. They designated three groups to compare: the 757 admitted to the hospital for a TBI; 1,243 admitted for other reasons; and a third group of healthy people living in the community. All three groups were matched for age, gender, and socio-economic status.

In all, 40% of people (305) who had sustained a TBI of any severity were dead within 13 years of the event. This was higher than the rate among those admitted with other injuries (28%) and those in the community, almost one in five of whom died (19%). Although the heightened risk of death was highest in the first year after injury, it persisted for at least a further 12 years, when the head-injured were almost three times as likely to die of circulatory, respiratory, digestive, psychiatric and external causes as their community peers. As might be expected, those with more serious injuries were more likely to die than those with mild injuries during the critical first year. But those with mild head injury were also twice as likely to die.

More than a year later, the young and middle aged were far more likely to die than those who were older, when compared with those with no head injury. Deaths among those aged 15 to 54 were more than six times higher than rates among those without a head injury, irrespective of potentially influential factors, such as gender and level of deprivation. The researchers said, “The reason for greater vulnerability in younger adults is unclear, but requires further consideration, especially given the particularly higher risk of head injury in younger adults.”