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Sports-related Injuries: Concussions and TBI in Young Athletes

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The Texas Youth Football Association near San Antonio, Texas, is one of the most competitive youth football leagues in the country. Featured recently in both People magazine and on television, the “win at all costs” mentality and the fierce rants of the coaches and some of the parents have stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Not only were people concerned about the message that this type of sports environment may be sending the players, but they were also concerned about the safety of the players themselves, some of whom were as young as six years old.  

In our continuing series on sports-related injuries and traumatic brain injury, your Denver personal injury attorney discusses the “Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit” held by President Obama on May 29, 2014. The Summit was held to focus on the unique dangers posed by concussions, and to encourage prevention efforts and research into the effects of traumatic brain injury. Our series takes this topic a step further and examines the issue of concussions and TBI in very young athletes such as those playing and tackling each other in the Texas Youth Football Association.  

Traumatic brain injury is particularly bad at an early age because the developing brain is more vulnerable to the effects of widespread damage associated with TBI. The young athlete who sustains a concussion is at risk of developing post- concussion syndrome–persistent concussion symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, irritability, and difficulty with thinking skills such as memory and attention.  Returning young athletes to play too soon can result in another head trauma being sustained, which can cause fatal brain swelling or “second impact syndrome.”  Furthermore, once a child has had a concussion, he or she is at a higher risk for sustaining another concussion.  The effects of multiple concussions are cumulative over time.  

Your Denver personal injury attorney advises that making sure child athletes have the appropriate protective gear and that it fits properly is crucial to decreasing the risk of head trauma in these young sports participants.  Another key preventive measure is making sure that kids know the symptoms of concussions so they know if they are suffering from one. Not all concussions or kinds of head trauma involve loss of consciousness. Recognizing that an athlete has sustained a concussion will allow for the proper treatment and time to heal. As noted above, returning to play too soon can have severe consequences. At the Summit hosted by President Obama, generous commitments were made for funding research and education on TBI prevention, recognition and treatment.  

One of the best ways to prevent head trauma is to teach and practice safe playing techniques.  Both coaches and parents should encourage players to follow the rules of play and to practice good sportsmanship at all times. It turns out that “winning at all costs” may be too high of a price to pay.

If you would like more information about whether your sports injury is grounds for a lawsuit, contact your Denver personal injury attorney Jordan Levine at Levine Law.