You don’t have to be a star athlete to have lived this moment at least once. It is that childhood memory, close to dinner time and your parents are hollering at you to come inside and wash up. And just before you wrap up those hours of running drills on the driveway or backyard, you fanaticize on hitting that last second, game-winning shot. But nowadays for many student-athletes, their dreams are tragically cut short due to concussions. Sports-related concussions are a growing concern not only among parents and student-athletes, but even retired professional athletes, who have sued professional sports leagues for millions of dollars!
Concussions are defined as “traumatic brain injury” as a result of a blow to the head. Physiologically, the brain moves violently front-to-back or side-to-side within the skull. As a result, one can experience symptoms that range anywhere from mild to severe, such as: appearing dazed or confused, loss of balance or in the most severe cases by immediately losing consciousness. However, while concussions can be treated, it is the long-term effects that have powerful residual effects on the overall health of the student-athlete that are extremely important to address. In fact, new neurological studies show that a young athlete’s brain DOES NOT heal quicker than an adults brain and takes longer to recovery from a concussion.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, over 140,000 high-school student-athletes suffer a concussion each year. An overwhelming majority of these cases come from traditional contact sports, such as: football, lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, and even soccer. So what is being done to lower concussions amongst student-athletes? Are coaches teaching proper techniques rather than just running drills and training? Are schools enforcing strict post-concussion treatment for their student-athletes? Are school districts supplying their student-athletes with newer equipment to prevent concussions? Are the games becoming too violent and should result in rule changes by the Michigan High School Athletic Association?
All of these important questions continue to go unanswered, while the numbers of student-athletes that suffer concussions grow larger. Clearly, there is a total lack of disregard for the safety and health of student-athletes by coaches, schools, school districts, and athletic associations, who must be held accountable before we start seeing our youth suffer prematurely from neurological diseases.
By: Fahd S. Haque, Associate Attorney for Moss & Colella, P.C.