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2012 New York legislation to limit high school athlete concussions

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Friday, October 7th, 2011

A new law in New York will require that both private and public high school sports coaches bench players that show symptoms of a traumatic brain injuries. This law, that will go into effect next year, requires that such athletes be free of symptoms for 24 hours and obtain a doctor’s note before being allowed to return to practice or competitive play.

But some experts are not convinced that the requirement is enough to stop incidents of brain injury in the nation’s high school athletes. One coach remarked that some students are not vocal about their symptoms and may ignore dizziness and loss of concentration during pivotal games. Some legislators believe that athletes must receive proper training to recognize the warning signs of a traumatic brain injury and not be afraid to speak up if they notice concussion symptoms.

Thus the new law also includes measures on required instruction for high school coaches, physical education teachers, school nurses and athletic training staff every two years. Beginning in July next year, legislation will also direct school officials in how to handle mild traumatic brain injury.

While most concussions are temporary and mild — with accompanying symptoms like loss of balance, concentration, memory, headaches and lack of judgment — experts worry that allowing an athlete to play too soon after suffering a concussion can increase the risk of subsequent, much more serious brain injury.

Further studies into sports related concussions will include a group of athletes that are asked to wear helmets equipped with sensors that will record impact data. Scientists will then study this impact data with brain scans to monitor new nerve cell damage in their brains. The research group hopes to establish a link between long-term minor brain injuries to serious, chronic conditions.

Source: Wall Street Journal, “NY to require benching students with concussions,” Associated Press, Sept. 30, 2011

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Protecting New York students from sports-related brain injuries

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Friday, September 9th, 2011

For families in New York, September means a lot of things. It’s the start of a new school year, and many students are busy preparing for tryouts for their sports teams. However, as students focus on getting their game to the highest levels, many parents are focusing on keeping their kids healthy in the process.

Our New York brain injury attorneys have written a few posts about the negative impacts concussions can have on athletes. Now, parents and sports administrators are taking that caution to the next level. In the interest of preventing New York brain injury attorneys and concussions, there are numerous new safeguards in place.

One of the first implementations is a new sports concussion center that recently opened. The center provides base-line testing, and students as young as 10 years old can learn about effects of concussions.

Several middle schools and high schools in the area have also signed up to have their student-athletes receive computerized before-and-after tests. At one school, more than 50 coaches and trainers met with local health experts for a seminar on concussions and other sports-related injuries. Officials that helped lead the seminar are preparing pamphlets to inform students and teachers about the injuries as well.

Thankfully, the awareness and attention to sports-related injuries is bigger than just local efforts. Even the creators of the popular Madden NFL video game are getting involved. This year, the football game is less violent, and it requires players who suffer concussions to sit out the rest of the game.

Source: Buffalo News, “Tackling injury o the high school fields,” Charlie Specht, Aug. 24, 2011

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Retired NFL players sue over traumatic brain injuries

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Thursday, July 28th, 2011

In what has become a contentious issue in professional football, a group of 75 NFL players are suing the NFL over traumatic brain injuries resulting from concussions. Players from NFL teams in New York and across the country allege that the NFL knew about the dangers presented by concussions for more than 90 years, and that they failed to warn players until only recently.

Their lawsuit also claims that the NFL attempted to hide knowledge about traumatic brain injuries from everyone involved in professional football, including coaches, players and the general public.

According to prevailing medical opinion, multiple concussions can lead to memory loss and dementia, and it can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). All of the players named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit have suffered injuries as the result of numerous concussions sustained while playing in the NFL. Many of the players involved in the lawsuit also named their wives as plaintiffs.

Riddell, the official manufacturer of helmets supplied to the NFL, is also listed as a defendant in the action. The suit alleges that the NFL and Riddell only began warning players about the potential cumulative effects of concussions as late as June of 2010.

A spokesperson for the NFL says they have not seen the complaint, but states that they will argue strongly against the players’ allegations. An individual speaking on behalf of the helmet maker, Riddell, declined to offer comment on the lawsuit, saying that the company has not reviewed the lawsuit.

The NFL has made rules changes to the game in the recent past, including specifying how and where a player can be hit. Studies concerning the safety of helmets used in the game are also underway.

Source: ESPN, “Ex-players sue NFL over concussions,” 20 July 2011

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New York bill targets concussions and brain injuries in students

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

In New York legislation, traumatic brain injury prevention is at the center of a new bill. A Republican senator is spearheading an endeavor that focuses on concussion safety.

Concussions can occur to anyone, but according to the senator, they are far more prevalent among student athletes. Although statistics are not yet available to verify the senator’s claim, there is no dispute about the dangers traumatic brain injuries can have on youth.

Because the New York Assembly Education Committee understands the frequency with which athletes suffer concussions, they have already approved the bill.

The bill outlines new ways of protecting students who may have a concussion. After an incident where an athlete could have received a concussion, athletes will be required to be immediately sidelined from the sport and any classes that require physical activity. The sidelining ends when the athlete shows no symptoms for 24 hours and has been authorized by a doctor to continue participating in physical activities.

Many athletes and parents do not understand that the brain needs time to fully recover from a concussion. The new bill protects students from pushing themselves too hard or from getting pushed by coaches or parents.

Beyond these new requirements, the bill also asks that each school district trains their staff and educates its parents and students about the dangers of concussions and these new parameters. Many of the politicians in New York are supporting this bill.

One politician said that the new bill creates a statewide standard which contributes to the safety of student athletes. Organizations such as the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and the Brain Injury Association of New York State have spoken out in favor of the new bill as well.

Source: Wall Street Journal, “NY lawmakers push new student concussion rules,” The Associated Press, 7 June 2011

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Young athletes most vulnerable to second-impact brain injuries

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Sports medicine experts are warning athletes, especially those under age 25, to be aware of symptoms following head injuries. The danger of younger athletes returning to sports before concussions fully heal can lead to traumatic brain injuries from “second-impact syndrome.”

A New York physician from the Hospital for Special Surgery stated that younger players are the most vulnerable and the least likely to notice the subtle symptoms of concussions that may occur. Young players are also subject to a learned competitiveness that makes them less prone to notify parents, doctors and coaches of symptoms.

“Second-impact syndrome” happens when an athlete experiences a second concussion and is not fully healed from the first concussion before returning to the sports activity. A subsequent head injury can easily cause serious or fatal brain injuries.

Concussion signs include mood changes, vomiting, vision or hearing abnormalities, dizziness, headaches and the inability to follow directions. Any of these symptoms experienced within several hours or even days following an initial head injury requires medical attention.

Another medical concern sports’ medicine physicians have is that the lack of symptoms is not a guarantee that a player’s concussion has healed. Experts say symptoms can diminish or disappear before full healing has taken place. A doctor’s examination and tests mimicking a physically-challenging situation can reveal if a player’s injury has healed.

Rushing a young athlete back into a contact sport is a risk that young, competitive players may be too willing to take in order to stay in the game. Coaches, parents and players are being advised to carefully watch for symptoms, err on the side of caution and consult with a physician. If any doubt exists, it is best to reduce the possible occurrence of preventable “second-impact syndrome.”

Source: US News Health, “Beware of ‘Second-Impact Syndrome’ After Concussions,” HealthDay, 22 May 2011

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Concussions Becoming One of the NFL Stories of the Year

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Football has always been recognized as a violent game that often leads to injuries, but this year fans have seen a greater emphasis on a specific type of injury – concussions. What was formerly thought of as “getting your bell rung” or “seeing stars” is now being recognized for what it is, a traumatic brain injury.

This Sunday, the Giants will travel to Green Bay to play the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rogers, who has already suffered two concussions this year. Last Sunday, a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts, Austin Collie, suffered his third concussion of the year. Fortunately, the NFL is monitoring concussions much more closely than they have in the past, and in doing so, have helped raise awareness of the dangers of concussions for everyone.

Outside the world of football, concussions are extraordinarily common. Clinically speaking, there are many misconceptions about what a concussion is. Contrary to some commonly held beliefs, concussions are generally not caused by bruises, swelling, or bleeding on the brain.

Instead, when an individual’s brain is suddenly accelerated, shaken, or rotated it causes the brains neurotransmitters to malfunction leading to the common concussion symptoms of confusion, dizziness, blurred vision, memory loss and so on.

As we learn more about these injuries, we are coming to understand that they can occur even when there is very mild trauma, especially if the victim has had a concussion in the past. Perhaps the biggest lessen to be taken from this new awareness is that all brain injuries have the potential to be serious injuries. Even injuries sometimes thought to be minor, such as whiplash, can lead to concussions and serious health issues down the road.

If you have suffered a head injury in a car accident, a work-related accident, or any other type of accident, you may want to let your physician know so you can look into whether you have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Source: New York Times, Concussion to Sideline Rogers, 12/18/10

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Neurologists Push for More Care around Concussions

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

If the American Academy of Neurology had its way, there would be a certified athletic trainer present at every amateur athletic sporting event, including both games and practice. This recommendation was made on Monday in the journal Neurology and represents the official opinion of the largest professional neurologists association in the United States.

In addition to the above point, the academy recommended that athletes believed to have suffered a concussion be removed from the game or practice immediately. The also asked that a player in this situation be fully evaluated by a qualified physician before returning to play.

The concern surrounding concussions and the potential for serious brain injury extends through all age groups and levels. Both amateur athletes and professional players are being warned about the potential dangers associated with a sharp blow to the head.

In October, the National Football League (NFL) began cracking down on dangerous hits, such as helmet-to-helmet tackles, fining three players in one weekend.

As Melissa Healy reports for the Los Angeles Times, the concern over amateur athletes is especially great, due in large part to studies which have shown a dramatic increase in concussion-related emergency care for youth between 8 and 14 years old.

Whether the academy’s recommendations will be acted upon remains to be seen, but coaches, school board members, parents and others would do well to take a hard look at the dangers posed to young athletes.

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Marine Corps Take Steps to Treat Battlefield Brain Injuries

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Monday, October 11th, 2010

The plight of U.S. soldiers who suffer concussions and other brain injuries on the battlefield is beginning to gain more traction in the public consciousness. Still, military leaders have a long way to go before they can say that the problem has truly been addressed.

However, steps are underway in some areas to provide injured soldiers with the resources and care needed to recover from injuries such as concussions.

Often the result of landmines and hand-fired rockets, one of the biggest challenges faced by army units in the field is getting the appropriate care to the front. At Camp Leatherneck, the Marine Corps have attempted to do just that with the Concussion Restoration Care Center.

The “center” treats up to 30 troops a week, employing a number of medical personnel and specialists who provide care and ensure that the soldiers being treated appropriately and are progressing in a positive direction.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, soldiers who check in to the center are often able to return to active duty in a matter of weeks – often without the sort of negative effects usually associated with head injuries.

For many soldiers, however, that treatment did not come soon enough. Many have already returned home, only to experience the symptoms of an injury that has yet to be diagnosed. Treating these soldiers and working to rehabilitate them will be a major issue for both the armed forces and healthcare providers.

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Brain Injury Might have Contributed to Football Player’s Suicide

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Doctors in Pennsylvania are concerned that repeated blows to the head might have contributed to the suicide of a college football player earlier this year. Autopsies performed on the college student after his death revealed troubling signs of “incipient chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” abbreviated CTE.

Recent autopsies of former NFL football players have uncovered the same thing, though at a much more advanced stage. Caused by repeated brain trauma, CTE has been linked to mood disorders such as depression.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this most recent case, though, is the fact that the player in question never suffered a concussion during his playing career. Rather, doctors believe that the CTE was a result of repeated impact at the line of scrimmage.

How many hits are too many? It’s hard to say. Concussions would be a more obvious indicator of repeated head trauma, but the general wear and tear of football is difficult to gauge without any standalone incidents.

This is scary news for the parents of football players and should be frightening news for the players and coaches themselves.

The NFL has come under fire recently from former players and others familiar with the business for failing to protect players against head injuries. These individuals have accused the league of prioritizing profit over safety. League officials have denied this and have, in their defense, begun to take a more proactive approach to preventing head and brain injury.

Still, this is a relatively new chapter in the study of traumatic brain injuries and head trauma. As such, it is not exactly clear just what that preventative approach should be.

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Concussions Happen in Youth Basketball Too

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

There has recently been a lot of focus on the dramatic increase in concussions and traumatic brain injury among young football players, and justifiably so. However, it is important to remember that concussions can happen in any sport and, yesterday, Tara Parker-Pope, of The New York Times, discussed instances of head trauma among young basketball players.

Medical journal Pediatrics recently reported that close to 375,000 teens and younger children arrive in emergency rooms across the country every year for injuries sustained while playing basketball. Among the injuries reported, the rate of head trauma and brain injury is increasing.

The data was from an 11-year study, focusing on the rate of injuries among young basketball players. Over the course of the study, the total number of head injuries doubled. Broken down by sex, head injuries doubled for boys and tripled for girls.

All in all, the study tallied nearly 110,000 head injuries over the 11-year stretch.

It is important to recognize that the number of participants engaged in basketball is much higher than many other sports and that, taken relatively, basketball records fewer head injuries per x number of participants.

Still, the sheer number of injured athletes is important regardless of what percentage they make up. For example, 3 out of 10 is a lower percentage than 1 out of 2, but would still triple the total number of those affected. (This is for illustrative purposes only and is not based on any of the aforementioned studies.)

The takeaway is that head injuries can happen in any athletic endeavor and, while you cannot stop all of them, being cognizant and ready to react is still a valuable asset.

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