Brain Injuries Plague College Football

In late April 2010, an NCAA panel recommended that all schools have a clear plan for what to do when a student athlete receives a head injury. The main issues are recognizing signs of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI, also known as concussion), understanding the potential severity of every head injury, and deciding when the athlete is fit to resume playing. (Sports Illustrated/CNN)

The first week of May, it was announced that athletes at all Big Ten colleges will be required to undergo education about the symptoms of MTBI.

On May 9, 2010, Dylan Steigers died of a football-related head injury. He walked off the field after a scrimmage, vomited–a sign of concussion–then taken to the hospital. He died of subdural hematoma (bleeding on the brain). His death will surely be remembered and cited often as yet another reminder of how serious every head injury can be. (OregonLive)

At HensonFuerst, we are highly attuned to the dangers of brain trauma.  Every day we see clients whose lives have been changed forever after an accident. We support the principle of brain injury education for athletes, coaches, parents, and college administration officials.  The more we all understand about the signs and symptoms of brain injury, the more we respect the seriousness of even “mild” concussions, the more we encourage wellness over performance, the fewer disabled athletes will require a lifetime of special care.

We hope that the responsibility for recognizing when an athlete may be unfit to play is given to those who have the appropriate medical training. We say this because it was reported that “students will sign a waiver acknowledging their responsibility to be an active participant in their care.” (Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, as reported on AnnArbor.com.)

Yes, it is important that athletes report their symptoms honestly–without fear of mockery or reprisals–but people who have a brain injury can be confused, forgetful, and disoriented. If the intention of this waiver is to get athletes to become more aware, that’s wonderful, but we hope that it is not used as a way to shield the colleges from their responsibility to protect the students.

HensonFuerst is a proud supporter of the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina (BIANC).

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