In the National Football League, they are finally grasping with the long term effects of concussions. For the past 25 years, we have been representing individuals who have suffered similar injuries. During those years, we have learned first hand that these injuries often have significant and profound long-term impacts. Many of the persons we represent come to us having suffered a mild traumatic brain injury.
The lives of NFL football players have put a very public face on the suffering of persons with mild traumatic brain injuries. One of my childhood heroes, former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon is the latest of these athletes to go public with his struggles.
The Mayo Clinic identifies the following symptoms associated with mild traumatic brain injuries:
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
- No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
- Memory or concentration problems
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears or a bad taste in the mouth
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleeping more than usual
The Mayo Clinic instructs you, “Always see your doctor if you or your child has received a blow to the head. Seek emergency medical care if there are any signs or symptoms of traumatic brain injury following a recent blow or other traumatic injury to the head.”
A person can suffer a mild traumatic brain injury without receiving a direct blow to the head. A severe blow or jolt can cause multiple points of damage as a result of the brain bouncing back and forth in the skull. A severe rotational or spinning jolt can cause the tearing of cellular structures. Falls and vehicle collisions are often the cause of mild traumatic brain injuries. If you are suffering from some of the above symptoms after having been involved in a fall or vehicle collision you should immediately consult your physician for medical treatment and advice.
One of the most difficult aspects of suffering a mild traumatic brain injury is often even those who love you most question the extent of your symptoms. Unlike a broken arm, a person can look perfectly normal and still be suffering from this profound and life changing injury. I have witnessed this both in my own personal life (with family members) and with the clients I represent in my legal practice.
Many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars deal with these injuries and the ostracization that often comes with it. In fact, it is considered a “signature” injury for these wars.
It is my hope that the struggles of these veterans of wars and retired NFL players will bring a new understanding and compassion to all of those who have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries. In this day and age, it should not be difficult for us to understand that an injury to the brain is far more life altering than a broken arm. And, as seen in these veterans and NFL players, the strongest amongst us are susceptible to these injuries.