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World Cup in Focus: Brain Injuries And Players’ Legal Rights

Soccer Related Injuries and Seeking Compensation

The 2018 FIFA football World Cup celebrated quite a few firsts. It was the first time Russia had hosted the World Cup, the first time referees used video replay, and (sadly for Croatia) the first time a team allowed an “own goal” in a World Cup final. In Europe, fans refer to soccer as football. Conversely, Americans differentiate between American football and soccer. Certainly, Europeans and Americans differ in how they define the game of football. But the two sports share one increasingly troubling commonality: the prevalence of head injuries.

Common Soccer-related Brain Injuries And The Science of Heading

The journal Neurology reports that soccer players who suffer head impacts are more likely to report moderate to severe CNS (central nervous system) symptoms associated with brain injury. In the United States, female high school soccer players have been found to sustain more head injuries than their male counterparts. A recent study described in Scientific American found that concussions account for about 19 percent of injuries among female soccer players. This is compared to 17 percent of concussions among males.

In soccer, heading refers to the technique of using your head to control the soccer ball. Players commonly score goals by heading a ball out of the air. Soccer players also often try to win possession of a ball thats been punted or place kicked downfield by heading it to a teammate.

Heading is as much a part of soccer as tackling is to American football. It may also be just as rife with the danger of head injuries.

According to Popular Science magazine, scientists believe that headers cause more white matter damage in women than in men. Three of the most common types of soccer-related brain injuries potentially associated with heading are:

Soccer Caused Contusions

Heading produces what is known as a coup-contrecoup injury. This type of injury refers to localized bruises on the brain. When a ball hits the head, linear and rotational forces cause the brain to bounce within the enclosures of the skull. This leads to bruises on the brain. Localized bruises accumulate as more headers are executed. Contusions also lead to rising levels of abnormal tau, β-amyloid, and α-synuclein proteins. Such proteins are linked to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD).

Concussions From Soccer Balls

This type of injury refers to trauma in more than one part of the brain. Studies show that corticomotor inhibition in the brain is immediately detectable after a header is executed. Furthermore, a ball may strike the head at between 100 to 150 times the force of gravity. Sometimes, when multiple players attempt to head the ball simultaneously, their heads can collide. Such powerful forces can produce tears in the protective membrane layers that line the skull. In turn, the torn membrane layers expose the brain to malignant free radicals, which contribute to neuronal cell death.

Diffuse axonal injuries

This is one of the most severe head injuries a soccer player can sustain. Some diffuse axonal injuries are so severe that the victim never regains consciousness. Playersremain in persistent comatose states. The word axonal refers to the axon, a neuronal projection that transmits electrical impulses between neurons. Each axon is sheathed in myelin. Continued header injuries can lead to the formation of lesions and the impediment of myelin debris clearance from the brain. The result is widespread or chronic inflammation of the brain.

Can Heading Injuries Be Prevented?

The rising trend in head injuries has led to an overhaul of soccer regulations in both Europe and the United States. In 2015, U.S. Soccer introduced the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative. The new rules completely eliminate the use of headers for players 10 years and younger, and children between 11 and 13 are only allowed to practice limited heading. U.S. Soccer has also ruled that all youth National Team and Development Academy players must comply with the new regulations.

Meanwhile, FIFA has instituted new rules pertaining to head injuries. The 2018 World Cup marked the first time a game could be adjourned for three minutes after a head injury. The three-minute interval allowed doctors to assess the extent of an injury. FIFA has also ruled that team doctors must receive access to video replays. This privilege facilitates an independent analysis of any on-field diagnosis. Most importantly, team doctors now have final say over whether players can return to a game after a concussion.

Despite the new rules, many experts remain dissatisfied. They contend that the regulations do nothing to prevent actual concussions. In response, many soccer leagues have begun mandating the use of protective headgear for their players. A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that protective headgear does reduce the risk of concussions. The study tracked 268 adolescents ages 12 to 17. Players who refrained from wearing protective headgear were 2.65times more likely to sustain concussions. Most significantly, only 26.9 percent of the players who wore headgear reported injuries, compared to 52.8 percent who wore no headgear.

What You Should Do in the Event of an Injury

So, how can you protect yourself or your child after a header-induced injury? First, consider getting a neurological or neuropsychological examination from a qualified doctor. Your doctor can determine the extent of the injury and make recommendations for the next steps you should take.

Never ignore the symptoms of a concussion must. Some of the more serious ones include:

  • A progressive worsening of headaches
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Prolonged periods of unconsciousness
  • Slurred speech
  • Recurring seizures and/or episodes of lasting dizziness
  • Frequent feelings of disorientation

If your injuries warrant extensive medical treatments and someone else’s negligence may have caused them, consider seeking the advice of an attorney.

Compensation for Soccer-Related Head Injuries

Many soccer players rely on team physicians to make the right diagnosis. However, a misdiagnosis can lead to mishandled concussion treatments. Alternatively, players may sustain injuries due to collisions or another player’s malicious actions. Sometimes, coaches or referees fail to intervene to ensure player safety. If a player suffers a concussion despite wearing headgear, the helmet manufacturer may also face liability for the injuries.

Victims of soccer-related injuries may have more rights than they realize. If you or a loved one sustained a head injury on the soccer field, contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA online or call us at (727) 472-3909. You may be entitled to compensation for your injury.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/florida-brain-injury-lawyer/