Brain Injury in High School Football – Who is Responsible?
Football may be America’s favorite past time but that doesn’t mean it is in anyway a safe activity. Full body tackles, multiple player on player dog piles, and intense practices can lead to some serious brain injuries. However, to be fair any sport that involves contact between players has the potential for serious injuries. If you’re a coach, parent or player it is important to take extra precautions when it comes to playing any high risk sport.
Recently the NFL has paid out a $765 million settlement to the families and players who have suffered from brain trauma while playing football in the NFL. This has sparked a lot of conversation about brain injury trauma in general and especially for those that play football in lower leagues like college, high-school and youth leagues. Can schools get sued if their students suffer brain trauma during high-school games?
Responsibility of School
Repeated hits to the head and consistent body tackles does affect the brain. The occurrence of a previous concussion also increases the risk of another concussion and further increases the player’s risk of brain trauma. Basically if you are getting seriously hit in the head repeatedly you will most likely suffer brain injury. This is a huge problem because later in life, players may develop parkinson’s disease or have brain damage effects. Many may not consider high-school football as dangerous as playing in college or in the NFL but brain injury occurs at this level too. The younger the players the less trainers and medical personnel are on hand. Players are at the mercy of their coaches so they’ll go back out even after a bad hit if the coach thinks they are okay.
To avoid a lawsuit, the school and coaches need to take some responsibility for their players and students. If a coach forces a player to go back out on the field despite the fact that the kid has been hit four times in the head and can’t see straight, there is a problem. There needs to be someone medically trained on hand during practices and games. This way any player that gets hit can be checked out before any more tackles or concussions can occur. You don’t want negligence due to a coach, ruin a player’s life by giving them brain injury. The parents also need to be held responsible and talk with their child about the signs of a concussion. Help your child to figure out when they need to take a break and make sure the coach honors that.
Brain Injury Prevention in High School Football
To prevent the risk of brain injury and to best protect the players there is a number of things that coaches can teach to their players. You don’t want to get slapped with a lawsuit for being negligent and not protecting the players
- Safe tackle techniques should be practiced regularly. During practice all players should learn how to tackle with their head being engaged in any physical contact. That means chest to chest or shoulder to shoulder contact should be used.
- Most concussions happen during practice and not the game because plays are being repeated. To prevent injury during practices, players should be instructed to not hit as hard.
- Learn the “when in doubt, sit it out” rule. If a player or coach thinks there is a risk of concussion or chance of brain injury, then you need to stop. If a player is trying to impress a recruiter or play through the pain, parents or the coach needs to intervene to protect that player.
Sometimes you won’t be able to tell if a player has suffered a concussion until it is too late. If you notice any blurred vision, head pounding pain, unconsciousness or anything out of the norm, that player needs to sit out. Football is great sport to watch and a fun game to play. Let’s try to make it as safe as possible by taking a couple extra precautions to help those that play it out.
Victoria Cairo is a blogger for Loewy Law Firm in Austin, Texas. As a football fan and safety advocate she loves finding ways to play football without the risk of brain injury.
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