About Concussion in Sports

An Introduction

The issue of chronic encephalopathy (CTE) has been known in contact sports, in particular boxing, going back to the early 20th century.

In 2002, Dr Bennet Omalu, a Nigeria-born neuropathologist based in the US, found CTE in an NFL (American football) player when he saw the debilitating disease in the brain of Mike Webster, the Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. This finding ignited a chain of events that ultimately forced the NFL to settle a class-action lawsuit from retired players and raised awareness of the dangers of head trauma in American football.

In the same year, 2002, the England international footballer, Jeff Astle, was said by the coroner to have died from heading a football. He was later found to have CTE.

Research has confirmed that the same types of brain injuries impact those playing physical sports in the UK, including football, rugby union and rugby league. Indeed, at least one study has found that rugby is considerably more dangerous for brain injuries than American football.

Concussion and sub-concussion impact

For many sportsmen and women, the tendency is to try and recall whether they suffered a concussion which knocked them unconscious and saw them ‘seeing stars’. However, the point to emphasize is that it’s not just the big concussions that cause brain damage, but unidentified concussions – not all concussions are initially diagnosed as such – plus the relatively milder ‘sub-concussive’ blows that sportspeople experience every time they play a game or do contact training. In a recent study of an American Football team of 38 players over the course of one season, there was only two concussions, but over 19,000 sub-concussive hits. 

What is sub-concussive impact?

Concussions are the hits to the brain that cause symptoms because the brain is shaken violently enough that brain cells are damaged to the point where they don’t work properly. Sub-concussive hits are those that are below that concussion threshold: the brain is shaken, but not to the extent that the damage to brain cells is severe enough to see through symptoms.
Examples of sub-concussive impacts can occur in every-game and every-training-type scenarios, such as heading the football, rucking, mauling or tackling in rugby union, or clashing heads in hockey. The impacts are there, and the brain is affected.
It is the accumulation of those sub-concussive impacts over a season or a career that can be devastating, and can lead to permanent neurological impairment, such as CTE.

Do you believe you may have brain damage?

If you have played a contact sport and fear you may have suffered an injury/ies to your head (and thus your brain), you’re welcome to take our 10-minute screening questionnaire here.
Alternatively we would be happy to email or post you the questionnaire. Our questionnaire has been put together by leading neurologists, and can shed light on whether you may be eligible to join our litigation. Once you have taken the questionnaire, our neurologist will offer their initial thoughts on your condition. If, sadly, we believe you may have suffered a brain injury/ies, we will offer to test you at a clinic to give you a definitive answer.

Signs of concussion and sub-concussion

Concussions (and therefore sub-concussions too) can be an evolving condition, with the symptoms taking time to display themselves, while many of the symptoms require honesty from the individual (feelings of nausea, vision distortion etc.).

Symptoms of concussive and sub-concussive injuries to look out for include:

Unsteadiness or imbalance
Memory Loss
Slurred speech
Blurred or distorted vision

If you are suffering symptoms of brain damage, such as memory loss, incontinence, fatigue, depression, suicidal thoughts, vertigo, headaches, a trouble with concentration, introversion, or a shortness of temper, you may be showing signs of early onset dementia or other neurological impairment.

If you believe that you have a potential claim, do not hesitate to contact us directly via email or phone. Alternatively, you may also fill out our 10-minute screening questionnaire by clicking the button below.