Sports-Related Head Injuries May Lead to Degenerative Brain Disease

by mdp | January 14th, 2013

head_injuryA degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been linked to repeated head trauma and to the suicide of former NFL player Junior Seau, who fatally shot himself in the chest outside his California home in May 2012. Once referred to as “punch drunk” because it affected boxers who suffered multiple damaging blows to the head, CTE has become more and more common among professional athletes like Seau, who played hard-hitting football for two decades. Junior Seau is only the latest football player to commit suicide and then be diagnosed with CTE postmortem; former NFL veterans Terry Long, Dave Duerson and Andre Waters all shot themselves to death and were later found to have the degenerative brain disease. If you have suffered major head trauma, either from a sports-related injury or from a car accident, slip and fall, or another type of accident in Tennessee, contact our qualified attorneys at Michael D. Ponce & Associates for legal help.

Devastating Head Trauma is Common Among Athletes

Two recent studies, one of which was released by the National Institutes of Health on January 10, 2013, have highlighted abnormalities associated with CTE in the brains of former professional football players like Junior Seau. A 2009 University of Michigan report found that, of the 34 former NFL players who have died and donated their brains to research, over 90% have been diagnosed with CTE. Harvard neurologist Dr. Marie Pasinski notes that a major part of the problem is that brain trauma most likely begins years before an athlete begins playing professionally. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, between four and twenty percent of college and high school football players suffer at least one brain injury during the course of a season. And as professional, college and high school athletes rack up multiple head injuries, they have an increased risk of suffering CTE, since the brain disease results from repeated injury rather than a single catastrophic injury.

Head Injuries Can Cause Irreversible Brain Damage

Damage from this type of mild, repeated head trauma adds up over time, and the resulting disease is rarely diagnosed while the athlete is alive, typically because the symptoms may not be obvious or because athletes keep quiet about their symptoms so they can keep playing. “There is still a pervasive belief that only a concussion serious enough to knock the athlete out will do damage, but that’s not the case,” says Pasinski. “Any blow to the head that leaves a person slightly dazed or not quite right may cause harm to the brain.” Particularly harmful is a condition known as “second impact syndrome,” in which a player suffers an additional head injury before the brain can recover from the initial trauma. “Even if the second injury is mild it can be catastrophic,” warns Dr. Jamie Levine, medical director of brain injury rehabilitation with the Rusk Institute in New York.

Contact Our Reputable Lawyers for Legal Help

Although the NFL is taking positive steps towards protecting the safety of its professional athletes, Levine says these changes aren’t likely to save the current generation of players – professional and amateur – who have already suffered debilitating head injuries. “Because CTE is degenerative and irreversible, once the damage is done, it’s done,” she said. If you or a loved one has sustained a head injury while playing sports, or in an accident caused by another person’s negligence in Tennessee, don’t hesitate to protect your legal rights. Contact our knowledgeable lawyers at Michael D. Ponce & Associates today to discuss your possible compensation options. You may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person or party found at-fault in the accident, in order to seek fair and timely reimbursement for your injuries and medical bills.