Children particularly vulnerable to head injuries

In the wake of recent controversy over traumatic head injuries sustained by NFL players and a Harvard statistic indicating that professional football players' lives are, on average, 20 years shorter than that of average males, all manner of sports have come under close scrutiny for their injury potential. While many Alabama children are encouraged to participate in youth sports, the possibility of a brain injuries is even greater for them than it is for grown adults.

The chair of the Alabama Statewide Sports Concussion Taskforce, or ASSCT, notes that young, undeveloped brains are particularly susceptible to injury, and the younger the brain, the more recovery time that is needed to recover from trauma. This much-needed recovery, however, conflicts with the child's need to keep up with learning in school; a two- or four-week recovery period could put a child behind in school.

On the other hand, many such injuries often go undetected until serious problems present. Approximately one-third of individuals who receive a traumatic brain injury don't lose consciousness, the telltale sign most commonly associated with head trauma. Rather, children may later present uncharacteristic mood swings, memory loss, chronic headaches and sleep disorders, which may persist well after the initial injury.

The ASSCT chairman additionally points out that while helmets may prevent the skull itself from fracturing, the force exerted on the brain itself can still be highly problematic, a fact that NFL players, perhaps, are all too aware of. Parents of children who are injured in sports programs, however, may have some recourse if the program is negligently managed due to lax oversight regarding safety or lack of proper safety equipment for each child. An experienced personal injury lawyer could help establish liability and may be able to help an injured child's family recover compensation for the medical expenses, rehabilitation and long-term care that can accompany a traumatic brain injury.

Source: Fox 6 WBRC, "Kids at risk for concussions in youth sports (part 2)," Britton Lynn, Feb. 19, 2013

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