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School Sports and Traumatic Brain Injuries


Recent lawsuits like the NFL class actionconcussion lawsuit have attracted a lot of media attention; however, head injuries are not limited to professional athletes. Many middle school, high school, and college athletes also suffer from traumatic brain injuries. Additionally, the risk of head injuries among these populations is also starting to attract national attention.

For example, a group of soccer parents recently filed a class action lawsuit against FIFA and other soccer organizations. Instead of asking for money, the group asked for the rules of soccer to be changed to minimize the risk of traumatic brain injuries. This includes a limitation on how many times children under 17 years old can head the ball, league substitutions for players who are undergoing head injury examinations, and mandatory medical testing for athletes who have had concussion-related injuries.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur when an external force, such as a bump, jolt, or blow to the head causes damage to the brain. TBIs can be caused by one severe blow, such as a hitting your head during a car accident, or by a series of smaller blows. These latter kinds of injury are called mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs), but they can still be very serious. MTBIs can cause repeated swelling of the brain that gets worse with each blow and can have long-term consequences. Because their brains and skeletal structure are not fully developed, youth areparticularly susceptible to traumatic brain injuries.

Symptoms of a TBI or mTBI can include:

  • Headaches;

  • Ringing in the ears;

  • Tiredness/sleepiness;

  • Dizziness;

  • Confusion;

  • Blurry vision; and/or

  • Lightheadedness.

According to the Brain Injury Association of South Carolina, TBI is the number one cause of death for persons aged 1 to 44 years, and 61,000 South Carolinians are living with a TBI-related disability.

Sports and Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are often the result of sports-related contact or accidents. According to the Public Broadcasting Service, concussions and other brain injuries at the high school sports level are most common in football, men’s lacrosse, soccer, women’s basketball, and women’s lacrosse. In many sports, such as football, there are higher rates of concussions at the high school level than there are at the college level.

If you or your child has a sports-related brain injury, you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit in South Carolina to recover damages for medical bills, lost earning capacity, or pain and suffering. Brain injury lawsuits can be filed under a number of different legal theories, such as negligence or products liability. For example, depending on the facts, a high school football player who is injured may be able to bring a products liability lawsuit against the helmet manufacturer or a lawsuit in negligence against the player that struck him, the coach, the school, or the league.

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