In recent years, concussion lawsuits by former National Football League players have captured headlines and sparked a great deal of interest in improving safety in youth and college sports. Although the media may make it appear as if most traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. are somehow sports-related, this is simply not the case. Indeed, only a very small number of TBIs are suffered in football, hockey, soccer and other sports. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading causes of TBIs in the U.S. are motor vehicle accidents and falls.
Many people have referred to the incidence of traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. as a silent epidemic because, stories about sports aside, very few people realize that it is, in fact, a serious problem. Each year, approximately one and a half million people suffer a TBI. By some estimates, the total costs for these injuries, including medical bills and expenses for chronic disability, approach $75 million annually. TBIs are a leading cause of death and disability among people who are otherwise young and healthy. What is worse, many of these injuries are preventable.
Doctors are just now beginning to understand how serious some mild TBIs can be. For example, new research indicates that even one mild-to-moderate concussion can cause significant damage to a person's brain. Further research is needed to determine whether the effects of these injuries persist over time, but the risks of long-term disability may be high. Evidence is mounting, too, that suffering repeated mild TBIs can cause serious damage, even making people more susceptible to degenerative neurological diseases and dementia.
Thankfully, the recent focus on sports-related TBIs has led to greater public awareness about these sorts of injuries and an increased interest in prevention, diagnosis and treatment options. This new interest will hopefully make it easier to obtain funding to conduct TBI research, which is essential to understanding not only how these injuries affect a person physiologically, but also psychologically. As tools and techniques used to detect and evaluate TBIs become more sensitive, physicians will be able to get a better picture of how these injuries occur and how best to treat them.
Unfortunately, no matter the steps individuals take to protect themselves, accidents do happen. If you have suffered a TBI in a car accident or fall due to another party's negligence, contact a personal injury attorney to learn more about your options.