Head injuries are among the most catastrophic because a person’s cognition, motor skills, and memory can be negatively impacted. While it may seem like a minor concussion isn’t a big deal, especially because of how commonly they occur in activities like sports, repeated head injuries can cause life-altering brain conditions and diseases.
Recognizing the hidden dangers of repetitive concussions is important if you or a loved one has sustained multiple injuries. You may be able to seek medical treatments to prevent serious deterioration. If you know you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence, our attorneys maye able to help you take legal action.
Facts and Statistics: Concussions and Their Effects
Anyone at any age can sustain a concussion. More than $2 million was spent in British Columbia in 2010 on hospitalizations for concussions alone. Children and youth, aged 0 to 19, are at a greater risk for head injuries. In addition to that, they often experience a longer recovery and may experience long-lasting effects. The leading causes in BC were due to falls and transport-related events. Many falls involved skates, skis, and skateboards.
In addition to children being at risk for head injuries, athletes are also at a significant risk. Brain trauma and conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia are more likely to affect an athlete who has sustained multiple head injuries. Concussion rates continue to rise because protective gear isn’t utilized as it should be and medical treatment isn’t sought as quickly as it needs to be.
While the general symptoms of a concussion include slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading, headaches or neck pain that do not go away, difficulty remembering, making decisions, or concentrating, getting lost or easily confused, and feeling tired all the time, those symptoms generally go away as the injury heals. For those with repeated concussions, however, the symptoms could evolve into a worsening condition.
The Trouble with Diagnosing Concussions
Even with proper medical attention, concussions can be difficult to diagnose for a number of reasons. First off, no two concussions are the same. A trained physician will perform a detailed exam and a cognitive test. During the exam, hearing, vision, reflexes, memory, attention span, balance, and coordination will be checked. Unfortunately, concussion symptoms can take up to a week to develop. This means that proper treatment could be delayed if no signs are present at the time of examination.
If a person is playing a sport and is wearing a helmet at the time they are hit in the head, they may not think anything about a possible injury or they may worry they are overreacting and choose to not see a doctor. Also, negligent coaches have been known to make players forgo treatment until the end of a game. Any delay in treatment can affect how the brain will recover.
The Long-Term Dangers of Repetitive Head Injuries
As discussed, most people recover from concussions fairly quickly. Approximately 80 percent of individuals will recover from a concussion in three weeks. The other 20 percent, however, are likely to suffer more serious, long-term problems. Often times, victims do not realize that they are experiencing a decline until conditions have progressed to the point not much can be done about them.
A person who has suffered multiple instances of head trauma could be fine for years and then suddenly begin to forget things, like where objects were placed or scheduled appointments. Other cognitive and emotional symptoms could begin to develop. The most dangerous involve depression and suicidal tendencies, as multiple concussions can alter a person’s brain chemistry and greatly affect their emotional state and how they feel.
A common disease found among athletes, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, slowly kills brain cells and involves a progressive decline in memory and cognition. While most brain diseases cannot be cured, there are treatments for patients suffering from conditions like CTE. Most involve behavioral therapy to assist with mood swings, pain management therapy, including medicine to improve alertness or aid with sedation depending on the condition, and memory exercises. While these treatments are generally able to provide a person with a higher quality of life, the damage from repeated concussions cannot be undone.
There are currently lawsuits against the Canadian Football League, Western Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League, and Hockey Canada for players who have sustained long-term injuries related to untreated head trauma. If you or someone you know was injured playing football or hockey, or was in a different accident, compensation may be available for economic and noneconomic damages. Wishart Brain & Spine Law is prepared to represent victims. Contact us for more information.