By: Allan M. Siegel
On April 30, 2016, D.C. United player Chris Rolfe took the field at Toyota
Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, to play his former team the Chicago Fire.
Approximately 30 minutes into the game he took an elbow to his nose from
defender Rodrigo Ramos. He brushed the hit off thinking that such a hit
could not cause a significant injury. His competitive drive kept him in
the game. During halftime he noticed a striking contrast between light
and shadow. He felt fuzzy, as if in a dream, but he still pushed through
and took the field for the second half. During the game he felt as though
the ground was moving underneath him, but he stayed on the field until
his usual relief time after approximately 70 minutes of play. With the
pressure of competition lifted, he finally approached the team’s
athletic trainer, who sought medical treatment for Rolfe. After a SCAT
3 test Rolfe was diagnosed with a concussion.
Rolfe says that at first he did not feel too badly but little by little
the symptoms began to present themselves. The day after the game he and
friends in Illinois spent a rainy day inside relaxing. The next day he
tried to go for a bike ride and found that he could not concentrate on
the road. He noticed every detail around him and could not filter out
information. The bright sunlight felt like a stabbing sensation in his
eyes. After returning home to Alexandria, Virginia, a few days later,
he tried to drive to work at RFK stadium and felt like a sandbag was on
the back of his neck. He had to be driven home by an intern and the team
arranged post-concussion therapy with specialists.
For weeks he stayed inside of his home during the day with the lights off.
He would even wear sunglasses inside to protect his eyes from the pain
caused by the sensitivity to light. He could not read, drive, ride his
bike, or look out of the window. Once while trying to shop at the grocery
store he circled an aisle five times and wound up completely lost and
overwhelmed with anxiety with no memory of what he came for. After six
weeks the symptoms finally began to lessen, and he has since slowly started
to return to simple activities, such as gardening and browsing the farmer’s
market. He has even started to watch his teammates’ games on his
widescreen TV, as for weeks his sensitivity to movement and light only
allowed him to watch games on his phone. Rolfe admits that he has considered
retirement as the result of this debilitating concussion, but he is far
from making any decisions. For now he plans to allow his brain to heal
fully, only then will he decide what comes next.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we have decades of experience
representing clients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, and in
particular have represented clients similar to Chris Rolfe who suffered
TBIs through sports-related injuries. We understand the type of medical
care and specialists needed to treat such an injury and the complexities
that may be involved in brain injury litigation. Please click
here to learn more about our experience handling brain injury cases.