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The Dangers of a Concussion

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The Dangers of a Concussion

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When I was 19 years old, a frisky horse threw me and I landed on my head. I woke up sitting on my friend’s bed, having no memory of walking across the field with her to her house, and no understanding of how I had come to visit her. Her answers to my questions gradually made sense as my comprehension returned. After this concussion, I noticed I have trouble speaking fluently if I am very tired or stressed. I was fortunate. I was not taken to the emergency department to check for a skull fracture or brain bleed. My friend was a veteran of the rodeo circuit and said she had never seen anyone thrown as hard as I was. Her guilty–looking horse knew he had made a big mistake.

Soccer can cause head injuriesThe subject of head injuries associated with sports is in the news. A new study found high school-age athletes are more likely than younger kids to have sports-related concussions, but the rate of such injuries in both groups is on the rise. From 1997 to 2007, emergency department visits for concussion in kids aged 8 to 13 playing organized sports doubled, and the number of visits increased by more than 200 percent in older teens, according to the report. In related news, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines on what to do about sports-related concussions, with advice for both parents and physicians. The study and guidelines are published online and in the September print issue of Pediatrics. See the table for recommendations of action. Parents should know that “no athlete should go back to play on the same day they have their concussion. We recommend athletes who have a concussion be evaluated by a medical professional before they return to play,” Dr. Halstead said. Concussions can result in intracerebral hemorrhage, cerebral edema, and permanent damage. Repeated concussions, such as those suffered by boxers, can be disabling.

Source: http://www.healthfinder.gov/news/newsstory.aspx?docID=642556

Med League has worked on a few cases involving school-related head injuries. This is what I recall about these cases. In the first case, the school nurse became a defendant when a child hit her head on the wall. The school nurse was not clear enough to the parents about the need to have the child checked in an ER instead of going home. The child suffered a catastrophic brain injury; the plaintiff won the case.

In the second case, a college student was hit in his head during a soccer game, passed out, and was taken to the infirmary where an orthopedic surgeon and college nurse examined him. Although they both advised him to go to the ER, he refused and went back to his dorm. A day later his roommate found him unresponsive and took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a catastrophic brain injury. The judge dismissed the case against the defendants during trial.

The value of head injury cases is largely dependent on the liability issues and the extent and permanency of the damages. School personnel will need to be familiar with these guidelines so they obtain the urgent medical attention needed after a concussion. A delay in recognizing the development of swelling or bleeding can lead to permanent injuries.

Med League is a legal nurse consulting firm that assists attorneys handling cases involving medical negligence, personal injury and other litigation with medical issues at stake.  Med League provides expert witnesses with expertise in evaluating head injury cases. Call us for assistance.

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