Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is the term commonly used to describe when a person’s brain is suddenly penetrated or knocked against the skull. The conditions caused by traumatic brain injuries range from a mild concussion to coma or death. Experts are also now including another level of TBI called a “subconcussive” brain injury, which is not as severe as a concussion, but may still have an effect on the victim’s brain. These milder injuries may be especially harmful if they happen on a regular basis, such as with football players or soccer players.
Brain injuries in professional football players have been in the news a lot recently. Thousands of retired football players and their families have filed personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits against the NFL for brain injuries suffered throughout their careers. They claim that the NFL knew about the dangers of TBI but did not pass that knowledge on to the players. They also say that the NFL needs to be doing a better job of caring for those that suffered the injuries. The recent suicide of Junior Seau put the spotlight on the link between head injuries and the increased risk of dementia and suicide. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative disease that has been confirmed in dozens of deceased players.
On Thursday, November 15, 2012, the NFL football commissioner spoke to a crowd regarding how far football has come in protecting its players and what it is doing to continue making the game safer while still keeping it interesting to watch. His speech was not a surprise after three quarterbacks were sidelined during games with concussions earlier in the week. Researchers believe the changes made in the NFL so far have made a difference, but more needs to be done, even at a lower level. Researchers published an article in Neurology stating that a player could get hit 4,000 times both in high school and college football, and that the injuries do not have to cause a full concussion to have a lasting, damaging effect on the brain.