Brain & Head Injuries in School Sports

Injuries to the brain and head are some of the most devastating for victims, often resulting in permanent brain damage. Many parents don’t realize that one of the most common causes of head and brain injuries is school sports. Learning more about brain injuries in sports can help you better protect your child through awareness and activism at the school.

What Sports Result in High Volumes of TBI & Head Injuries?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 283,000 minors visit emergency rooms in the U.S. for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) related to sports and recreation. Contact sports, such as tackle football, account for around 45 percent of these injuries. The most common type of head injury related to school sports is concussions. A concussion is a mild to severe brain injury caused by blunt-force trauma to the head. A concussion can cause symptoms such as confusion, dizziness, headaches, and sensitivity to light and sound. It can also have behavioral and emotional impacts on a child.

The school sports that result in the highest volumes of traumatic brain injuries are:

  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Hockey
  • Bicycling
  • Playground activities

Any sport or activity at school that involves player-to-player physical contact or objects that can strike players’ heads can cause head and brain injuries. For example, players butting their heads into other players, with or without helmets, can jolt the brain around inside of the skull and cause bruising, swelling, hemorrhaging and other types of brain injuries. In addition, flying objects such as hockey pucks and baseballs have a risk of causing injuries from bumps or blows to the head.

Liability for a Head or Brain Injury in School Sports

The adults in charge of school sports have a responsibility to ensure the reasonable safety of student athletes and participants. They can do this through proper training, safety-approved sports equipment and knowing when to take an injured student off of the field. Unfortunately, many sports coaches and school administrators fail to properly protect students from head injuries in school sports.

For example, a school or coach may not replace outdated or damaged helmets or may force a student to keep playing even with a probable head injury. These are examples of negligence, or the failure to take due care to prevent player injuries. Your child’s school could be financially responsible (liable) for a head or brain injury in school sports if it or one of its employees caused or contributed to the injury through negligence.

What Should You Do if You Suspect a Concussion or Head Injury?

If you believe that your child suffered a concussion, bruising, skull fracture, or another head or brain injury while participating in a school sport or activity, take these steps to protect your child and exercise your legal rights in New Jersey:

  1. Report the injury to an administrator or authority at the school. Tell the coach, athletic director, principal and others at the school about your child’s head injury. Request an incident report.
  2. Take your child to a hospital without delay. Get a second opinion from a medical professional even if your child has already been to the school nurse.
  3. Do not allow your child to continue playing the sport until he or she is cleared by a doctor (not the coach). Sustaining a second head injury while the first has not yet healed can cause more serious damage.
  4. Document the situation. Write down what caused your child’s brain injury in detail, along with important information such as the time, date and location. Request copies of his or her medical records.
  5. Contact a brain injury lawyer right away to discuss the possibility of bringing a lawsuit against the school or another party.

If one or more parties had the power to prevent your child’s head or brain injury in a school sport but negligently failed to do so, your family may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Discuss your case with an attorney for more information.