Football Head Injuries With No Concussion Symptoms?
A recent study suggests that football players may suffer brain injuries even in the absence of concussion symptoms. The University of Michigan study involved 11 high school varsity football players wearing helmets equipped with accelerometers. Researchers compared data received during high-accelerated head impacts to biomarkers identified during their blood tests.
Researchers found significant increases of two different biomarkers of brain injuries following high-accelerated head impacts, one of which was elevated by 740 percent, while the other showed a 500 percent increase. The study also revealed that those biomarkers remain elevated for the remainder of the season, although the levels did decrease with time.
The findings demonstrate that the traditional symptoms of a concussion do not always accompany head injuries. Similar findings have resulted from studies involving boxers and hockey players. That said, researchers still don’t know which biomarkers demonstrably diagnose a brain injury or the significance of time passage with respect to these elevated levels.
A Troubling Conclusion
The study raises numerous concerns. For one, it highlights how little we know about the short term consequences of impacts to the head. Second, it reminds us that we probably don’t fully appreciate the long-term effects head impacts can have. Third, and maybe most troubling, it suggests that typical concussion protocols do not adequately diagnose a brain injury.
We have come to understand in recent years that even mild concussions can leave long-term consequences, so we take player safety much more seriously than we did 20 years ago. While we no longer write off head impacts as “just part of the game,” a potential injury could still elude both the coaching staff and even the player himself. We also don’t know whether head impacts that show signs of brain injury have long-term effects or whether these biomarkers in combination with other factors could indicate a brain injury.
We do know, however, that just a single brain injury can cause serious consequences for an athlete’s academic or professional career and even erode his or her quality of life. As a result, we hope that this area of study will continue to develop so that we can fully understand the implications of these contact sports.
The Long-Term Implications of Head Injuries
As noted above, we’re just beginning to come to a fuller understanding of the long-term health implications of head injuries. Several stories have involved athletes suffering later in life due to a history of concussions and other brain injuries. Some athletes have reported severe mood swings, inability to concentrate, migraines, and memory loss. Tragically, medical professionals believe that the effects of these brain injuries resulted in the suicide of many athletes, like the late Dave Duerson.
For athletes who expect to play professionally, head injuries take on a different dimension, as they could derail their ability to play the sport and make a substantial living. We know that a history of concussions suggests that more concussions will take place in the future and that these concussions could increase in severity. As a result, a player heading into the draft could see a significant loss in draft value, or a substantial drop in slot rankings. For an athlete already playing professionally, a severe concussion could result in loss of income by ending a season or cutting short a career.
Of course, these injuries can prove just as problematic for athletes who do not expect to play professionally. An athlete’s poor academic performance due to brain injury can hurt his ability to develop a post-football career. Prior brain injuries may inhibit his ability to consistently and reliably work later in life. Repeated head injuries may result in partial or total disability, or may simply cause health problems that require more intense care in earlier years than expected.
You Have Options
We’re not suggesting that you should never play football, hockey or soccer but we do think the potential long-term implications are worth a frank discussion. We also think you need to understand the options for protecting your health, your career, and your financial future.
Insurance products that can provide some security for your professional athletic future include:
- Loss of Value (LOV) insurance: This insurance covers the loss of value that a player may experience due to injury or illness. For example, let’s say that a player suffers a severe concussion in the final year of his contract. It was expected that he would sign a new contract for at least $25 million, but due to the injury or illness, he only got a contract for $17 million. His Loss of Value rider attached to his permanent total disability policy might cover a percentage of the difference.
- Temporary total disability insurance: This insurance covers short-term injuries or illnesses and any resulting loss of income.
- Permanent total disability insurance: This insurance covers lost income due to an injury or illness that forces the player to permanently leave the sport.
While the products above focus on professional athletes, those athletes who do not expect to play professionally also have access to similar disability insurance policies. If you’re worried about the effect a brain injury may have on your future, we strongly recommend that you discuss your options with a top-rated athletic insurance attorney or experienced individual disability lawyer at DarrasLaw.
DarrasLaw: Nationally Recognized Disability Attorneys Helping Athletes
DarrasLaw’s stellar disability attorneys and seasoned athletic insurance lawyers have decades of litigation and claim experience helping athletes negotiate and purchase the insurance coverage they need. We help our clients understand their policies, negotiate the terms, and guide the filing processes in the event that you need to make a claim. Purchasing insurance is an investment in your financial future—don’t put your investment at risk by buying insurance you don’t need or that won’t provide help when you need it most.
If your insurance company denies your claim, DarrasLaw stands by our clients every step of the way. We have a proven track record of aggressively litigating and winning against every disability insurance company to get the insurance benefits you richly paid for. Our founding partner, Frank N. Darras, and his firms have recovered almost $1 billion in insurance benefits for our clients worldwide. We know how to fight for your future and we know how to win.
Contact a Top-Rated Disability Lawyer at DarrasLaw Today
If you would like to schedule a free policy analysis and free claim consultation with one of DarrasLaw’s experienced athletic insurance attorneys or top-ranked disability lawyers, call us at (800) 458-4577 or contact us online.