According to the Alzheimer’s Association, athletes who have received multiple hits to the head have a significantly higher than average risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative condition of the brain. Most people associate this disorder with football; however, CTE also strikes participants of less aggressive sports, like baseball. Injuries that produce concussions result in the most brain damage, but even non-concussion injuries can impair the organ’s functioning.
Ryan Freel of the Cincinnati Reds was the first baseball player to receive a diagnosis of CTE after his suicide in 2012. Known for his fearless style that involved collisions with other players, Freel estimated that he sustained ten concussions during his career. Tests on his brain tissue following his death revealed he had Stage 2 CTE, which is characterized by erratic behavior and memory loss. Once the disorder progresses to Stage 4, it causes paranoia, aggression and dementia.
Clearly, contact sports present health risks. Although wearing a helmet offers no guarantee of protection from a serious brain injury, studies strongly show that it can reduce risk. Here are some tips on the fit and care of baseball helmets.
- A helmet should fit snugly. It shouldn’t be too tight, but it shouldn’t be loose enough to allow space between the padding and the head.
- Ensure the helmet doesn’t obstruct side vision.
- Don’t use a cracked or broken helmet with loose or missing padding.
- Store helmets in a room that doesn’t get too hot or too cold.
For more information on baseball head injuries, see Baseball Spring Training: Are Your Ball Players at Risk for Head Injuries?
Whether you’re the parent of a concerned Little Leaguer or a “weekend warrior” who took a shot playing in your work’s softball league, you need insight. Concussions can be confusing and scary, particularly if there’s a debate over who’s liable. Contact our D.C. brain injury attorneys for a free consultation about your options.