Can Football Concussions Be Fatal?

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 11-Oct-2017

Football concussions receive a lot of attention from the press because of the possibility athletes may develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). While concussions can cause the degenerative brain disease CTE, they may also result in death or permanent disability shortly after an injury occurs. Second-impact syndrome (SIS) is a nickname for brain swelling that can occur when young athletes receive two concussions in a short period of time.

Although rare, there are possible cases of SIS in the US each year. Most athletes affected by SIS will not survive. According to a doctor who led a study on SIS that was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, the condition has a 90 percent mortality rate. All potential cases of SIS reviewed for the study involved high school or college football players.

Athletes who survive SIS may require highly specialized care for the rest of their lives. Many will experience a significantly decreased quality of life.

What Happens to Football Players Who Survive Second-Impact Syndrome?

Multiple lawsuits have been filed by family members of young football players who allege their loved ones suffered from SIS. One of these lawsuits can help describe why athletes may succumb to this condition and how their lives are affected afterwards.

Preston Plevretes v. LaSalle University described the story of a LaSalle University football player who suffered a horrific personal tragedy after receiving two back-to-back concussions.

During football practice, then 19-year-old Preston Plevretes sustained a concussion from a helmet-to-helmet collision. Four days after the concussion, Preston told his athletic trainer that he was experiencing headaches. Two days later, Preston went to LaSalle’s Student Health Center complaining of headaches, dizziness and a ringing in his ears – all of which are common concussion symptoms. However, LaSalle staff cleared him to return to play two days after his visit to the university’s health center.

Two weeks later during a game against another university, Preston suffered a second concussion and fell into a coma. Although he survived the incident, he suffered permanent brain damage. Preston lives with the consequences of his injury. He has difficulty speaking and requires the use of a wheelchair or cane to move. His attorneys argued the LaSalle University was negligent by clearing him to play shortly after his first concussion. While the LaSalle denied liability for the incident, Preston did receive a $7.5 million settlement.

Universities and all 50 states have implemented return-to-play guidelines. These are guidelines that help identify players with concussions and that specify when they can return to play. Family members of players affected by the complications of concussions should contact a personal injury attorney.

The Washington DC brain injury attorneys at Regan Zambri Long, PLLC have an extensive record of helping victims of negligence.

Categories: Personal Injury
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