Yes, sports can cause a traumatic brain injury. Many people suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) while playing in games, practicing a sport, or engaging in other recreational activities related to sports. According to medical journal Rehabilitation Research and Practice, about one out of every ten TBIs in the United States occurs during a sport or other recreational activity. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons puts this number as high as 21 percent for children, tweens, and teens in the United States.
While the risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury is higher in some sports than others, serious injuries, including head injuries, are possible in almost any sport. If you or your child suffers a sports injury involving the head, it is important to have a medical evaluation as soon as possible to rule out a traumatic brain injury.
Some Sports Have a Higher Incidence of Traumatic Brain Injury
Participants in some sports are at a higher risk of suffering a TBI than others. In general, these injuries occur when:
Players Come in Contact with One Another
Contact sports generally have more traumatic brain injuries, but players can collide in almost any game. Head injuries may occur in:
- Martial arts
Falls or Crashes Cause Head Injuries
In other sports, it is not the players colliding that results in most TBIs. Instead, it is falling or crashing into a hard surface or object that causes the problem. This may be the case in:
- Horseback riding and other equestrian sports
- Rollerblading and skating
- Skiing or snowboarding
Perhaps a surprising addition to this list is cheerleading. While traditional cheerleading is relatively safe, TBIs are more common in modern competitive cheerleading. This type of cheerleading involves gymnastics-inspired handsprings and flips, as well as stunts such as pyramids, lifts, basket tosses, and catches, that can easily lead to a head injury.
Injuries in the Water
Diving, swimming, and other water sports can lead to near-drowning incidents. These incidents can cause the brain to be deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time, resulting in damage to the brain.
Sports TBIs Vary Widely in Severity
Brain injuries caused by sports and recreational activities vary widely in severity, from a mild concussion with few symptoms to a severe TBI that requires months of inpatient rehabilitation. Additional injuries may also occur if the injured brain bleeds or swells, causing an increase in pressure inside the skull.
If you believe you or your child may have suffered a head injury during a game or practice, get evaluated as soon as possible. Some minor TBIs show few outward signs in the first minutes and hours after an accident. Many people do not lose consciousness or only lose consciousness for a moment, but damage can still occur.
More serious injuries — moderate and severe TBIs — are usually obvious because of the extended loss of consciousness. Victims require immediate medical evaluation and treatment.
There Is Rising Concern About Chronic TBIs From Sports
There is evidence that suffering multiple concussions and other TBIs may cause a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This progressive, degenerative, and debilitating condition has been linked to boxing, hockey, football, auto racing, and a number of other activities that can cause repeated brain injuries.
This condition affects the victim in a number of ways, including:
- Memory loss
- Impulse control issues
- Erratic behavior
- Impaired judgment
- Aggressive behavior
You May Be Able to Recover Compensation Because of Your Sports-Related TBI
Treatment for brain injuries and recovery from a brain injury can be expensive. Also, many people miss months of work or simply cannot return to their jobs. Many victims recover with only minor lasting effects, while some must learn to live with significant impairments. Others require ongoing nursing care.
If sports caused your traumatic brain injury, Pintas & Mullins will evaluate your case for free. For more than 20 years, Pintas & Mullins has protected the rights of personal injury accident victims and may be able to pursue compensation on your behalf. When you make the call, the team from Pintas & Mullins can:
- Evaluate the viability of your case
- Determine if you can pursue compensation
- Explain your rights and legal options