Football & Sport Injuries
In January 2017, the National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation class action settlement became final. The Plaintiffs claimed that retired NFL players had experienced head trauma during their careers and that the NFL was aware of the risks of repetitive head trauma yet failed to warn players about the risks and that the NFL conspired to ignore and conceal evidence about the risks. The case rose to the supreme court, which upheld the settlement in December 2016.
Settlement Class Members will receive the following benefits from the litigation:
- Baseline Assessment Program – provides baseline neuropsychological and neurological examinations as well as additional medical testing and counseling
- Monetary awards for diagnoses of Death with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and other brain and neurological illnesses
- Education Programs promoting safety and injury prevention for youth and other football players
Concussions and head injuries are a risk in many sports, not just football. Fortunately the quality sports programs are taking this issue seriously and improving the protections for athletes. As new technologies become available and the education increases, programs will continue to make sports safer.
There are many ways to help reduce the risk of a concussion or serious brain injury, including:
- Start with the youngest children and ensure that children travel in a properly installed car seat or booster seat. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death in minor children. Though you can reduce serious and fatal accidents by 50% by having kids properly restrained.
- Utilize gates at the top of stairs to prevent infants and toddlers from falling.
- Frequent safe playgrounds that have considered safety. Visit playgrounds with soft-fill rather than a hard dirt. Consider age appropriate surfaces that remain cool in the summer.
- Making sure children wear helmets that are appropriate for their chosen activity. While there is no “concussion-proof” helmet, they will help reduce the risk of serious brain injury and skull fractures. Riding bikes, skateboards and scooters are all activities that should necessitate a helmet.
Sports and physical activity are vital to a healthy life in both youth and adults. Physical activity helps provide a variety of health benefits; in fact, an Aspen Institute study of existing data and research found that physical activity is associated with reduced risk of 13 different types of cancer. Adolescents who play sports are eight times as likely to be physically active at age 24 compared to those who do not play sports, and high school athletes are more likely than non-athletes to attend college.
All of us can also insist on a creating a safe sports culture to help ensure that our young athletes grow up respecting the importance of safety. A safe sports culture includes:
- Reinforcing the importance of safety from day one and being consistent in focusing on safety with athletes and parents;
- Developing a concussion prevention plan with clear steps and expectations;
- Requiring that athletes will support each other when sitting out of a game;
- Obtaining written instructions from doctors on an athlete’s ability to return to play;
- Calling out unsafe actions or play;
In conclusion, when played safely, sports bring communities together. They develop the drive, determination and focus on teamwork that is necessary to be successful throughout life.
Know what to look for in a safe sports program and understand what you can do at home to keep kids safe and prevent serious brain injuries. If you have experienced trauma through sports or negligent behavior or conditions, please contact my office for a consultation.