David G. Smith
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Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury: Understand the Risks

To understand the importance of closely evaluating concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI), look no further than this year's Super Bowl.

This past Sunday, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman scored a crucial touchdown, but also took a hard hit to the head in the fourth quarter. Although medical experts initially questioned whether Edelman should have stayed in the game, medical staff cleared him to finish the game according to a report issued on Monday. 

After the hit, Edelman played six more plays before being evaluated. Chris Nowinski, Executive Director of the Sports Legacy Institute, told Sports Illustrated that this is not soon enough. The NFL has been "less vigilant about pulling concussed players off the field," he said.

The news came at the same time the Judge Anita Brody, of the US District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, determined that the NFL's $765 million settlement proposal should cover about 5,000 more players than initially proposed. The settlement provides benefits to retired players and families of deceased players diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Dementia and certain cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE (a neuropathological finding) diagnosed after death.

TBI and concussions don't just happen to athletes. Victims of auto accidents, bike accidents, and even children involved in playground accidents risk a concussion or TBI. Awareness of symptoms is critical, as these injuries can be overlooked immediately after an accident. Symptoms of mild TBI, or concussion, include:

   Fatigue

   Headaches

   Visual disturbances

   Memory loss

   Poor attention/concentration ("brain fog")

   Sleep disturbances

   Dizziness/loss of balance

   Irritability-emotional disturbances

   Feelings of depression

   Seizures

Sometimes symptoms don't appear until days after an accident. If you have sustained a head injury, be sure your doctor or a neuropsychologist performs a thorough neurological exam as soon as possible. A CT Scan or MRI will also provide helpful information.

If you witness an accident, call 911 if the person is vomiting, has unequal pupils, is unconscious, has neck pain, slurred speech, or has weakness on one side of the body.

A concussion or TBI is more than just a knock on the head. It is an injury that temporarily or even permanently changes brain function. Protect yourself by understanding the symptoms and seeking immediate treatment.

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
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