Attorney Joseph Cammarata – Partner at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. – recently shared his insight and experience on concussion injuries in an article published Thursday, August 28th in the Portland Tribune. The article – titled
Concussion Season – focused on the issue of concussions in sports, a subject that has earned widespread attention following several high-profile lawsuits. In particular, the article discussed current standards and policies regarding high school and college athletes who suffer head injuries during play.
With school beginning and football, soccer and other sports seasons starting, many efforts are being made to analyze concussion policies and how and why they fall short. The largest problem, according to the article, is that players all too often return to play when they are not fully healed. This can place them at increased risk for suffering long-term brain damage.
The article focused on some of the main reasons why athletes continue to get back on the field when they're not ready:
- Many athletes don't report possible concussions or head injuries, and instead play through their symptoms.
- Coaches are too busy focusing on the game to take proper steps for monitoring athletes who may have suffered concussions.
- Sports – at all levels – often promote the time-honored practice of "sucking it up," or "toughing it out."
- Objective criteria and testing is needed to help doctors and coaches know when a player is fully healed.
The article goes on to reveal that we need better, stricter policies in place because there's not always a definitive answer for when high school athletes are OK or ready to return. 'When in doubt, sit them out' has become the most accepted advice. According to the article:
- Roughly 60% of concussed high school players can return to play after one week.
- About 20% of players need two or three weeks.
- About 20% need one to two months.
- Roughly 10% will never fully recover and should never play again.
Although studies about concussed athletes' poor performance and high-profile lawsuits can help bring about better concussion policies, the article ultimately sided with Attorney Cammarata that the best solution is to ensure accountability and make sure coaches do the right thing. In order to make sure that coaches are reinforcing the idea that a young athlete's long-term health is more important than playing or winning, "everybody's got to be held accountable," Partner Cammarata said. No matter what athletes say or do, it's the coach's responsibility to take action.
Attorney Cammarata's comments are based on years of advocating for brain injury victims and injured athletes, including former professional soccer player Bryan Namoff, who suffers from permanent impairments after returning to play too early. He also drafted the Athletic Concussion Protection Act of 2011, which became law in the District of Columbia. The Act created strict return-to-play policies for DC athletes 18 years of age and younger.
If you have questions about brain injuries or athlete injuries, contact a Washington, DC personal injury attorney from Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.