The American Association for Justice recently released an important report about concussion research and the case for laws protecting youth, amateur and professional athletes. For years, what we’ve thought about concussions and brain injuries has been widely misunderstood. Everybody’s afraid of the ‘big hit,’ and with good reason. Severe concussions are frightening for victims and bystanders. Nothing’s scarier than a player who has been knocked unconscious on the field, but what about the minor repetitive hits that go unnoticed by coaches and other professionals on the sidelines?
What is CTE?
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries. It’s important to note that CTE isn’t just associated with what we traditionally think of as concussion events, where somebody gets knocked out. CTE can occur as a result of an accumulation of undramatic subconcussive hits. In fact, these seemingly minor hits, that happen dozens of times in the course of a football game, are a major risk factor for this brain disease. Players can still be at risk for serious health problems even if they don’t exhibit any immediate symptoms.
What About Youth Athletes?
- Only one state has any enforcement mechanism for its concussion management laws.
- Only five states mandate medical personnel to be present at games involving collisions.
- Only six states require parents be notified of their child’s traumatic brain injury.
- Just 31 states require concussion training for coaches.
Who is at Risk for CTE?
Anybody who has been exposed to repetitive mild hits to the head could be at risk for developing CTE. Symptoms typically begin within eight to 10 years after the trauma and include disorientation, dizziness, headaches, memory loss, depression, erratic behavior and progressive dementia among other issues. It’s important to note that CTE doesn’t just happen to boxers, bull riders and NFL players, CTE can affect people who only played football for a few years in high school.
CTE Research and Litigation
At this time, Texas does not require parent notification of suspected or diagnosed traumatic brain injury during youth sports. Texas doesn’t require clearing health professional to be licensed physician or trained in TBI management either. The American Association for Justice has designed an incredible website with all the information you need to know about concussions, sports and the laws associated with protecting athletes. They have NFL case information and reports on the latest CTE research.