Football is one of the most popular sports in Canada. Whether a young person is learning how to play the game for the first time, or your family and friends have gathered to watch your favorite teams play, football offers a sense of community. While we love to watch the game and root for our favorite players, there are serious and sometimes deadly consequences associated with the sport that need to be discussed.
When considering the nature of the game, it’s easy to see how players can be injured. Sprains, broken bones, and bruises are definitely common. But more dangerous and less visible consequences lurk every time a player gets hit in the head. Unfortunately, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are becoming more and more common among football players.
If you know someone who’s suffered a TBI as a result of frequent football injuries, our lawyers at Wishart Brain & Spine are here for you. Let’s take a more in-depth look at why brain injuries are a risk to football players.
Football and Concussions
A concussion occurs when the brain hits the inside of the skull. This can happen when the head, face, or neck receive a direct blow. The greater the force of impact, the more severe the concussion.
The most common concussion symptoms include headaches, disorientation, fogginess, memory problems, and loss of consciousness. After a person suffers from one concussion, they are much more susceptible to future head injuries. A second concussion typically lasts longer than the first, and the symptoms can be much worse.
Football players can suffer from brain injuries during a game or in practice, with or without a helmet. Even a minor hit on the field can take a long time to recover from. While the immediate consequences of a concussion may seem manageable, the long-term effects can be devastating.
The Long-Term Effects of Reoccurring Head Trauma
According to the Government of Canada, 64 percent of visits to hospital emergency departments among 10 to 18-year-olds are related to participation in sports, physical activity, and recreation. Of those visits, 39 percent of patients were diagnosed with concussions and 24 percent with possible concussions. They also report that football, soccer, and hockey have all shown a greater than 40 percent increase in rates of reported head trauma between 2004 and 2014.
If an individual suffers from repeated concussions, they can develop a brain disorder called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This is a neuropathological change. The effects may not be noticed for months, years, or even decades after the last brain injury. Common symptoms include memory loss, impaired judgment, depression, and aggression. This disorder is most commonly found in athletes who experienced repeated head injuries.
Reducing the Risk of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Football
The Government of Canada is pushing initiatives to increase the awareness of the dangers of concussions and of the means to prevent, detect, or responsibly manage the process of returning to physical activities after sustaining an injury.
There are a number of steps athletes, coaches, and teams can take to reduce the risk of brain injury when playing contact and collision sports like football:
Improved Training and Coaching. Younger football players are at an increased concussion risk because they may not understand the proper tackling form. If players are taught proper forms from a young age, there’s a chance concussion rates could go down as they get older.
Better Enforcement of Rules. With the recent studies published on CTE, stricter enforcement of existing rules and rule changes at high school, college, and professional levels is extremely important. The rules, which are in place to reduce the risk of concussion and long-term injury, are meaningless if they’re not followed.
Better Equipment. Unfortunately, the equipment football players currently use is not optimal for preventing head and brain injuries. While they may decrease the risk of facial injuries, the brain isn’t always protected from a hard hit. As a result, it’s important for teams to look into the equipment they’re purchasing, so know they have the best helmets possible for their players.
Delaying Start of Contact Sports. Parents should be cognizant of when their child can start contact sports. If the child is too young or not physically ready for the contact aspect, they could suffer serious injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered a condition resulting from multiple concussions sustained while playing football, you may be able to file a CFL concussion lawsuit through our firm. We’re here to inform the public about repetitive brain trauma and get help for players who are dealing with the long-term effects of concussions. Contact us today for more information on your legal rights and options.