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Entries in concussion law (3)

Friday
Nov202015

Header Rules: Class Action Lawsuit Changes Youth Soccer

Injury AttorneyConcussion Attorney

 

 

by Thomas Cecil

(818) 907-3292

 

 

Recently, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and other youth soccer leagues agreed to issue new guidelines, including recommending the banning of “headers” for players under 10, in settlement of a class action lawsuit over concussions brought by parents of several youth soccer players.

Concussion LawyerNational Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human ServicesThe lawsuit arose out of mounting evidence that youth soccer players, especially girls, are at risk of significant brain injury from concussions suffered while playing soccer. According to the lawsuit: “soccer ranks among the top sports in the number of concussions per game. Female soccer players have a higher per-game concussion rate than male players.” 

Unique to soccer is the use of the head to direct the ball towards another player or to the goal, an action known as a header. The plaintiffs contend:

"Headers" can be a violent striking of the ball, sometimes with such violent impact that spectators wince and the sound of the impact carries through the stands. At least 30 percent of concussions in soccer are caused by heading the ball or by attempting to head the ball and colliding with a player, object, or the ground. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a concussion is:

a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging the brain cells. 

As stated in its Concussion Information Sheet made available as part of the CDC’s Heads Up Concussion program,

Children and teens who show or report one or more of the signs and symptoms listed below—or simply say they just “don’t feel right” after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body—may have a concussion or other serious brain injury. 

The observed behavioral signs include: 

  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.
  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness; or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down.” 

Impact of Youth Sports

Scientific evidence shows that the brain of a child or teenager is more vulnerable to long term damage from repetitive concussions, yet youth and high school sports tend not to provide adequate medical supervision. A New York Times health writer states:

The young brain is especially susceptible to concussion, and sports-related concussions account for more than half of all emergency room visits by children aged eight through 13, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. A child who suffers a concussion is one and a half times more likely to experience another, and those who have had two concussions have a threefold greater risk of the same injury happening again.

According to the class action lawsuit, “about half of all high schools have access to an athletic trainer, but very few have an athletic trainer present on the sidelines or on call to help identify concussions during play.” 

Sports Injury AttorneyIn the terms of settlement, the USSF, US Youth Soccer Association (USYSA), and American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), among others, will issue new guidance including a recommended ban on headers for U-11 and younger players, and a time limit on heading for U-11 to U-13.

Concussion education for coaches, referees, parents and athletes will be established. Some guidelines will be mandatory – such as the removal of a youth player from practice or a game where the player may have suffered a concussion and the need to follow certain protocols before that player will be allowed to return to play. Return to play and new substitution guidelines are also included in the settlement.

While the results of the class action lawsuit are a step forward in protecting young athletes from serious long term brain injuries, it remains to be seen whether banning heading will appreciably reduce the number of concussions.

Again, from the New York Times:

Among girls, soccer is associated with the highest risk — 6.7 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures, according to the academy study. Although many focus on the hazards of heading the ball, a new study of high school soccer players found that contact with another player was by far the most frequent cause of concussions among female and male players. 

Excellent helpful concussion resources for youth and high school sports, including brain injury basics and a number of relevant fact sheets for identifying and managing concussions, are found at:

CDC Heads Up

http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/index.html

HEADS UP to Youth Sports: Parents

http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/youthsports/parents.html

Concussion Information Sheet

http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/pdfs/youthsports/parent_athlete_info_sheet-a.pdf

Thomas Cecil is a Brain Injury Attorney and Shareholder at our firm. Contact him via email: tcecil@lewitthackman.com, or by phone: (818) 907-3292.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Tuesday
Nov102015

Cruise Line Hit Big for “mild” Head Injury

Injury AttorneyBrain Injury Attorney

 

by Thomas Cecil

(818) 907-3292

 

A major cruise line was hit with a $21 million dollar verdict after a passenger was struck in the head by an automatic sliding door. As reported by a local Seattle television station and shown on security video, the passenger was struck on the right side of his head as the door attempted to close as he walked through the doorway.

In the video, the passenger is seen grabbing his head and seemingly shaking off the blow. Unfortunately, the passenger suffered what is known as a “mild” traumatic brain injury, a “closed head” injury more commonly called a concussion.

As reported in the story, the injured passenger developed post concussive syndrome which caused a cascade of symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness and social withdrawal. A successful businessman’s career and family life was forever changed by what appears to be an undramatic blow to the head. So what actually happened?

According the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.

A “mild” brain injury can be a misnomer. The CDC stresses that concussions need to be taken seriously as the damage can be life altering.

According to the CDC, there are generally four categories of symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury, including:

traumatic brain injury

Mild traumatic brain injuries are oftentimes overlooked and difficult to diagnose because the injured person looks otherwise healthy and the brain damage does not show up on standard imaging such as CT scans and conventional MRIs. Notes the CDC,

Diagnosing MTBIs can be challenging as symptoms of MTBI are common to those of other medical conditions (such as post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], depression, and headache syndromes), and the onset and/or recognition of symptoms may occur days or weeks after the initial injury.

Although most people recover in a matter of days or weeks, a concussion can have long-term complications, “affecting thinking, sensation, language or emotions. These changes may lead to problems with memory, communication, personality changes, as well as depression and the early onset of dementia.” 

According to the television report, the injured cruise ship passenger suffered from one of the potential complications of concussion known as post-concussion syndrome or PCS. PCS is typified by attention and memory problems with symptoms of fatigue, sleep disturbance, headache, dizziness, irritability, affective disturbance, apathy, or personality change lasting more than three months (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). A small minority never recover and are known as the “miserable minority” or “walking wounded.” 

The tragedy with the cruise ship passenger is that his injury was preventable. According to the report, the cruise line had known about the malfunctioning door which had struck other passengers but it failed to take reasonable steps to correct it. A $21 million dollar damage award undoubtedly provides the incentive to protect its passengers more carefully.

Thomas Cecil is a Brain Injury Attorney at our firm. Contact him via email: tcecil@lewitthackman.com, or by phone: (818) 907-3292.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Friday
Feb272015

Head Injuries: Protecting Players in Youth Sports

Personal InjuryConcussion Injury Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

A recent study by the Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research and Prevention revealed this: Coaches who underwent training by USA Football's Heads-Up Football program are better equipped to prevent player injuries.

In fact, youths playing for these trained coaches were 34 percent less likely to sustain concussions during practice and 29 percent less likely during a game. Researchers studied players on 100 teams playing in 10 leagues in several states. Though the youth football study did not factor in the types of helmets worn, independent physicians confirmed whether or not the players sustained concussions.

Youth Sports InjuriesESPN Poll: 87% parents polled concerned about youth sports injuries; 80% with coach behavior.

A more controversial study of 42 retired National Football League players by Boston University found that participants who began playing football before age 12 performed significantly worse in tests measuring verbal IQ, reasoning/planning, and memory loss. (Critics claim the sample size was too small – and that those tested played youth football from the 1960s through the 1980s when rules for safety and equipment were less strict.)

That being said, there's been a lot of talk recently about the effects of injuries, particularly head trauma, in both youth and professional sports. Mostly the discussion centers on football – but soccer, skiing, and other activities can prove equally dangerous when kids aren't supervised well, and when they lack the proper safety equipment.

According to USA Today, emergency rooms most commonly treat young athletes for strains and sprains, followed by bone fractures, and then contusions. Concussions are fourth on the list of common sports injuries for kids, but they can be the most damaging in the long run.

What's being done to minimize the risk of sports injuries for our kids?

Youth Sports: Tackling Safety in California Laws

Sports Injury LawyerAn existing California law covering all scholastic sports is already on the books. Education Code §49475 mandates that student athletes suspected of having a head injury will immediately be removed from athletic activities for the remainder of the day, and not be permitted to return until cleared by a licensed health provider. Students who do have concussions must complete seven day or longer graduated, return-to-play protocols.

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2127 last July, which amended §49475 and added Education Code §35179.5. The new regulations limit high school and middle school football teams to two, 90 minute, full-contact practices per week, to be held only during the pre-season and regular seasons. The new law specifically prohibits full contact football practice during the off-season.

When Helmets and Sports Laws Fail

The laws above regulate scholastic sports, but other athletic organizations that operate outside of the academic realm are facing serious personal injury litigation.

Here in California, the national Pop Warner league is being sued for teaching players to tackle "head first", which technique the claimants allege have resulted in catastrophic spinal cord injury. The league had rules banning that type of tackle, but claimants allege Pop Warner failed to ensure the coaches complied with the rules. In this case, the tackler was 13 when he sustained his injury in 2011, and is now a quadriplegic.

In another suit filed in Wisconsin, a mother of a 25 year old who committed suicide alleges her son's concussions sustained while playing Pop Warner football led to post-concussion syndrome and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Pop Warner isn't the only organization facing litigation.

A class action lawsuit filed by parents and players against the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA, an international governing body of soccer), U.S. Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization was filed in a California district court last summer because of the way these organizations deal with concussions.

The suit does not seek financial damages. It seeks an injunction to force FIFA and the other leagues to change the way they deal with concussions. FIFA has guidelines to prevent and treat concussions, but does not have actual rules, much less any enforcement of such.

Given the rising concern over sports injuries by parents and players over the last few years, hopefully FIFA and other sports organizations will soon take heed.

 

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him by phone: (818) 907-3270, or by email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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