We saw another example this weekend of how football coaches allow players to stay in the game with head injuries. Michigan coach Brady Hoke failed to remove sophomore quarterback Shane Morris after he received a crushing blow from a defensive end. Morris appeared dazed, stumbling after the hit. The coaches let him stay in the game for the next play, and then removed him, only to return him to the game later for another play.
As this played out on national TV, it raised questions to the necessity of a concussion protocol at the college level, that would bar teams from allowing players with head injuries, and concussion-like symptoms, to continue playing without further evaluation.
CBS Sports reported that in his postgame news conference Coach Hoke said, “I don’t know if he had a concussion or not, I don’t know that. Shane’s a pretty competitive, tough kid. And Shane wanted to be the quarterback, and so believe me, if he didn’t want to be he would’ve come to the sideline and stayed down.”
This type of mentality has gone on for too long, and has resulted in 5,000 former NFL players suing the league, alleging that it hid the dangers of concussions from them.
Many of the NFL players participating in this lawsuit revealed that they suffer or suffered from the devastating effects of multiple blows to the head which include: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and other serious side effects from concussions such as memory loss, dementia and the degenerative brain disease, ALS.
The NFL, which long disputed evidence that its players were suffering severe brain damage, stated in court documents that it expects nearly a third of retired players to develop long-term cognitive problems and that the conditions are likely to emerge at notably younger ages than the general population.
The New York Times reported that studies, including one conducted by scientists at the University of North Carolina and another at the University of Michigan, discovered higher rates of dementia and other cognitive decline in football players.
Concussions are not just a serious problem for professional athletes, but are prevalent in children of all ages who participate in any contact sport, from youth programs to high school and college. Studies suggest that repeated blows to the head and concussions in young children can cause significant harm as well. Because their brains are still developing and they have weaker necks than adults, they may be even more vulnerable to brain trauma. According to the website clearedtoplay.org, injuries associated with participation in sports and recreation activities account for 21% of all traumatic brain injuries among children in the United States.
While there is no standard of recovery time from a concussion, guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology find that athletes are at greatest risk of repeat injury in the first 10 days post-concussion. A 2013 study by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital found that concussion symptoms lasted twice as long in patients with a history of previous concussion as those without such a history. All athletes who sustain a concussion-no matter how minor-should undergo an evaluation by a qualified healthcare provider before returning to play.
Changes need to be made across the board, from the NFL and College level through youth football. The NFL’s concussion protocol, which was instituted in 2009, bars players with significant signs of a concussion from returning to a game or a practice on the same day. NCAA guidelines say that the team medical director and primary athletics health care providers must have clear and transparent authority when caring for injured players. According to CBC News, the Chronical of Higher Education reported that 53 of 120 surveyed athletic trainers/staff members said they had felt pressure from football coaches to return a player faster than what was medically needed.
The dangers of concussion in sports is real, and although we may not see the effects of these brain injuries for years, we need to continue to address this problem and help keep the safety of athletes at all levels of play a top priority.
The personal injury lawyers at Munley Law have been fighting for clients for over five decades and they can fight for you. If you have been injured, contact the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law at 855-866-5529.