With the recent increase in media attention devoted to the long-term consequences of head injuries among professional football players, many parents have been left wondering whether they should have similar concerns for their athletic children. According to recent research, the answer may very well be yes.
In a study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, researchers investigated the effects of "heading," a soccer technique in which players use their heads to hit the ball. Using advanced MRI technology, they examined the brains of 38 amateur soccer players and compared the results with information about the frequency of heading among the participants.
The researchers discovered that players who engaged frequently in heading were more likely to exhibit signs of mild traumatic brain injury, or TBI. This type of injury occurs when a blow to the head causes the brain to knock against the inside of the skull, resulting in a disruption of normal brain activity. The study’s authors found that the players who engaged in frequent heading had decreased hand-eye coordination and poorer memory than other players.
The average age of the participating soccer players in the study was 31, but the findings could have broad implications for child athletes and their parents in Illinois and throughout the nation. According to CBS News, approximately 18 million people play soccer in the U.S. – 78 percent of whom are under the age of 18.
Brain injuries may have lasting consequences for kids
This study and others like it in recent years have added to a growing body of research suggesting that concussions and other mild TBIs may present far more serious health risks than previously believed. In the past, mild TBIs were generally thought to resolve over time with no lasting consequences, especially among children and teens, whose brains were believed to be more resilient.
Now, however, researchers are discovering that even relatively mild head injuries can cause long-term problems for kids as well as adults. For instance, in a study of 186 children age eight to 15 who had suffered mild TBI, researchers at Ohio State University’s Center for Biobehavioral Health found that roughly 20 percent experienced symptoms that lingered for several months or longer.
The most common long-term symptoms experienced by participants in the study included forgetfulness, fatigue, dizziness and difficulty paying attention. In many cases these symptoms resulted in "significant functional impairment of their daily lives," CBS reported. Most of the children studied had been injured in falls or sports accidents, while others had sustained head injuries from traffic accidents or other causes.
Illinois child sports injury liability
While some accidents are not truly one’s fault, in other cases needless injuries occur – or are allowed to worsen – because of someone’s negligence or wrongdoing. For instance, by allowing a child athlete to return to play after suffering a head trauma, a coach may put the child at risk of very serious secondary injuries. When a child is harmed by someone else’s negligence, Illinois law permits the injured player and his or her family to seek financial compensation for the injury and resulting medical costs, as well as other economic losses they have sustained.
If your child has suffered a sports injury in Illinois, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights and legal options.