Football has always been considered a relatively dangerous sport, but in recent years the sport has come under fire for its role in causing brain damage to players. As we reported, a recent study showed that playing professional football can pose a significant threat to the player’s overall mental health later in life. According to US News & World Report, the research found that brain damage sustained during their football careers makes former players more likely to show symptoms of depression later in life than the general population.
Amateur and youth football players aren’t immune from the risks of football, as well. In fact, according to a study published last year, even minor repeated blows to the head during sports such as football and hockey could damage the learning ability of participants after just one season.
In response to increasing concerns about head injuries caused by the sport, the NFL and General Electric Co. have announced a joint $60 million effort to increase research on brain injury in the hopes of improving diagnosis and treatment of concussions and other head injuries. Possible research might include searching for genetic indicators of susceptibility to certain brain injuries and developing more consistent treatment and management protocols.
Football isn’t the only sport that poses a serious risk of head injury to its athletes. Boxing, for instance, has been cause for concern by health experts, scientists, and even some competitors for decades. According to John Hardy, chair of Molecular Biology of Neurological Disease at University College London’s Institute of Neurology, women competing in the Olympic boxing ring is a “terrible thing” – not because he thinks women shouldn’t be given the opportunity to compete in the same sports as men, but because introducing women into the boxing ring simply means more people will be at the risk of brain damage.
Hardy’s research, which focuses on Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, shows that repeated head injuries can cause chronic brain damage and long-term trauma. According to Hardy, frequent blows to the head cause “tiny lesions along the blood vessels where they have torn the nerve cells around them, [which] damages those nerve cells, and those cells start to develop the tangles [prevalent] in Alzheimer’s disease.”
Concerns about head injuries in soccer are increasing, as well. According to Reuters, a small study of female soccer players published last month found that repeatedly bouncing a ball off the head can lead to “mild traumatic brain injury of the frontal lobes.”
Several lawsuits are currently pending against the NFL regarding injuries caused to former players, including a class action on behalf of 4,000 former professional football players and their wives, alleging that the NFL knew about the dangers associated with concussions in the sport but covered up long-term effects associated with repeated head injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered a sports-related concussion, contact the Chicago head injury lawyers at Ankin Law Offices at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible cause of action for a sports-related head injury.