Concussions and other brain injuries are very common, especially for those who play contact sports like football, for example. Actually, approximately 60% of players in professional football have experienced a concussion over the course of their careers. Those who haven’t are at a 5-10% chance of obtaining one. Shaking off a hard knock to the head is a norm in football. Players have so much adrenaline and drive to continue to compete that they might not even notice any pain or side effects until hours, days, weeks, months, or even years after the injury.
Sustaining repeated head injuries aren’t just damaging in the present-day lives of players; the long-term effects of repetitive brain trauma can lead to two particularly frightening diseases and syndromes: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and Second Impact Syndrome (SIS).
While athletes who participate in contact sports are more likely to fall victim, don’t be fooled: Anyone who suffers from repeated head trauma can eventually develop CTE and SIS. So far, research surrounding CTE in particular has been conducted on deceased NFL players who donated their bodies to research. A study released in October 2015 reported that of the 91 former NFL players who donated their brains, 87 of those brains tested positive for CTE.
What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is an incurable degenerative brain disease found primarily in athletes with repeated history of brain trauma. For a football player competing through high school, college, and into a professional career, a player could obtain tens of thousands of blunt hits.
Signs and Symptoms of CTE
Football players who have CTE typically don’t show any signs or symptoms for years, sometimes even decades, after their last concussion or brain injury. However, symptoms of CTE may include:
- Impaired judgment
- Memory loss
- Difficulty controlling impulses
- Depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, and other mood disorders
- Progressive dementia
Because these signs and symptoms are common for a myriad of other diseases, it can be hard to pinpoint when they’re caused by CTE.
Diagnosis and Treatment of CTE
At this time there are no current treatment options for CTE. It’s a disease that unfortunately can’t be diagnosed until death; a thorough examination of the brain is required.
What is Second Impact Syndrome (SIS)?
Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) is when the brain is concussed or harmed before fully recovering from a previous brain injury. The brain immediately begins to swell at rapid speed and may cause brain herniation. SIS is not common syndrome. But, when it does occur, it’s likely to occur in younger athletes–around high school-age. And, it doesn’t have to be onset by a catastrophic hit; it can actually be a pretty unremarkable one. The after-effects are almost always devastating, though: The likely outcome of SIS is either permanent disability, or most often, death.
Diagnosis and Treatment of SIS
The most effective way to receive a SIS diagnosis is a CT scan. Because the effects usually take place within minutes, immediate medical attention is required. The best way to prevent SIS is to catch and treat the initial concussion. Signs of a concussion include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of balance
- Memory loss
No player should return to play until symptoms reside in full and a licensed physician thoroughly evaluates the injured party.
Indianapolis Brain Injury Lawyers Are a Call Away
It’s nearly impossible for athletes, especially football players, to dodge a brain injury or concussion. If you’ve suffered a sports-related concussion or if you think you’re experiencing long-term side effects from past brain injuries, contact the personal injury lawyers at Wilson Kehoe Winingham for a free case evaluation. Reach out online or by phone at 317-920-6400 or 800.525.8028.