By Dan Chamberlain, Cohen & Malad LLP
Young or old, outdoor sports activities account for up to 3.8 million concussions each year in the United States. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The incidence of sports-related concussion is widely underreported as sports participants may not seek medical care for an injury from a medical facility or otherwise report TBI symptoms. A helmet, pads and other personal protective devices may reduce the risk of TBI, but the risk of injury can never be eliminated. Prevention is the only cure for a TBI.
A TBI is an alteration in brain function or brain pathology caused by an external force. A loss of consciousness, lack of pathological or diagnostic findings, or Glasgow Coma Scale assessment is unnecessary to prove a TBI occurred while a participant in outdoor sports nor are such factors or scores predictive of TBI recovery, including the permanency or residual effect of brain injury in athletes.
Sports concussions are often classified by researchers as "mild TBI" because most athletes recover from an individual or isolated insult to a brain. A mild TBI is defined as a “complex pathophysiologic process affecting the brain, induced by traumatic biomechanical forces secondary to direct or indirect forces to the head.” While many mild TBI survivors recover, approximately 18% of athletes do not. Classification of brain injury as mild does not guarantee recovery from TBI.
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