Football and Brain Injuries: A Complex, Toxic Relationship

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In response to alarming studies and lawsuits about the relationship between football and traumatic brain injuries, many athletic organizations are instituting new rules to prevent catastrophic brain damage caused by the game.

In 2012, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) added a new rule: if a player’s helmet comes off during a play, that player must sit out for the next play. A properly fitted helmet is crucial for protecting the brains of high school student athletes, and if a helmet comes off during play, that indicates that the helmet is either the wrong fit or not properly adjusted to the athlete’s head.

Ivy League schools, meanwhile, are going to greater lengths to make sure its athletes understand the severity of football-related brain injuries. At all eight schools, coaches are teaching their athletes about safer tackling techniques, and they are limiting full contact practices to once per week in the spring and twice per week in the fall.

How is the NFL Responding to TBI Dangers?

Across the National Football League (NFL), new regulations require players to:

  • Meet with a neurologist after sustaining a concussion
  • Abstain from play until they are “fully asymptomatic”
  • Receive approval to return to the game from team medical staff and an outside neurological consultant

However, these rules do nothing for the players already suffering from football-related head injuries. Several thousand players filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL, claiming that the league knew about health dangers and did not do enough to guard against them. According to one study, more than 60 percent of professional football athletes sustained a concussion, and 26 percent had at least three throughout their careers.

Are Concussions Brain Injuries?

Concussions are a form of brain injury, and they are increasingly common for people engaged in physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 38 million concussions occur every year from sports and recreation-based activities. While concussions are technically classified as “minor” injuries, they put the brain in a fragile, weakened state. Any subsequent damage can cause exponentially greater harm.

If negligence or a lack of oversight led to you or your loved one’s concussion or more severe brain injury, speak with an Indianapolis brain injury attorney today.