Football season is in full swing, but football means more than jerseys, tailgates, and cheering for the winning team. For some, football, and the injuries from football can mean a lifetime of pain or disability, or even death. That’s why I think it’s important to continue the discussion on traumatic brain injury and to encourage education and awareness about this increasingly prevalent health condition.
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, an average of 1.5 million people will sustain a brain injury in their lifetimes, and of those 1.5 million, 50,000 will die and 80,000 will suffer from long-term disability. Those are significantly higher numbers than I would have guessed.
Brain injuries are classified into basic three types:
Coup – these are brain injuries directly below the site of impact, such as bruises, cuts, and other marks that can pinpoint the impact. Trauma can range from bruising to hemorrhaging of the brain.
Contrecoup – these brain injuries occur on the side of the head opposite from where the impact occurred. Many times, they are overlooked or misdiagnosed due to their not being at the site of the impact itself. Injuries such as these can occur in motor vehicle crashes, roll over accidents, and other vehicular collisions. Contrecoup injuries most often happen when the brain is suddenly moved around inside the skull, causing impact with the bony ridges of the skull opposite where the initial impact may have occurred, or even without a true focused impact.
Coup-Contrecoup – these are most severe form of brain injuries, which occur to both the side and to the opposite side where the skull is struck. These brain injuries happen when the brain is bounced around inside the skull and is damaged as it bangs into the skull from the inside. Many times these brain injuries are misdiagnosed and can cause very high risk complications and permanent damage.
All traumatic brain injuries are serious, and often symptoms fail to manifest themselves for days or sometimes even weeks following the trauma. Whether you’re a professional football player, or play in college or high school, or just in the park, head injuries are nothing to overlook. Head injuries, whether TBIs from vehicular trauma or from falls must be diagnosed and assessed as soon as possible to help you and your health care professional determine what treatment you may need, and also if you should be cleared for work or for risky sports.
Claude A. Wyle is a partner of Choulos Choulos, and Wyle, a San Francisco based law firm dedicated to representing clients who have been injured by the wrongful conduct of individuals, corporations, public entities, and businesses. Mr. Wyle also frequently sits as a Judge Pro Tem for the city and county of San Francisco.