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Brain Injury Risks for Young Athletes


Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a devastating and incurable form of dementia which causes neurodegeneration of the brain. The disease has long been associated with contact sports, as well as behavior issues, mood changes, and risks of suicidal behavior.

In August, the Boston University CTE Center published results from the largest-ever study of CTE in young athletes ever conducted. The study found the presence of CTE in 63 out of 152 young athlete brains; all young people who had competed in youth, high school, and college competitions, and all who had died before the age of 30. The study has huge implications for youth sports leagues and any negligence surrounding the duty to protect youths who engage in contact sports.

What Causes CTE in Youth?

While CTE has long been assumed to be a disease that develops later in life, we are now beginning to understand just how early the harm can start. There is now evidence indicating that developing brains are more vulnerable to trauma, and while the risk factors are complex and multifaceted, evidence indicates that playing junior contact sports increases a youth athlete’s risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases later on.

While many believe that repeated concussions can ultimately lead to CTE, as opposed to an athlete experiencing a specific number of concussions, in fact, according to this study and others, the strongest predictor is cumulative exposure to repeated brain trauma. In other words, as opposed to a small number of more forceful injuries, prolonged exposure to repeated low-level impacts appears to produce a greater amount of overall brain trauma.

Litigation Against Those Reckless with Youth Safety in Contact Sports

The study has major implications for sporting leagues and associations – here in Georgia and around the world – in terms of entities placing minors in harm’s way when it comes to participation in contact sports.

In fact, a number of youth contact football leagues, such as Pop Warner Football, have already been sued in connection with youths diagnosed with CTE. A number of young people who played in the league for years and years end up suffering from CTE later in life, even though they had never been diagnosed with a single concussion. As a result, these families allege that the league was negligent in protecting their kids’ brain health and in misleading parents about the safety of their coaches’ training and the safety of the kids’ helmets.

Contact Our Macon, Georgia Brain Injury Attorneys with Questions

There is no question that, especially in light of this new evidence, all sporting organizations need to do more to protect young athletes’ brains, especially in junior and recreational competitions.

If you or a loved one has been placed in harm’s way, resulting in brain injuries, it is critical that you speak with a Macon brain injury attorney right away to find out what your options are in terms of ensuring any medical treatment and any and all future expenses for victims are covered.

At the Law Offices of Buzzell, Welsh & Hill, our injury attorneys have extensive experience obtaining justice for victims of brain injuries in and around Macon. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and find out more.




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