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When teen athletes suffer brain trauma

If you are the parent of a high school athlete who wants to play a contact sport like football, you may hesitate mightily when it comes time to sign the annual permission slip.

According to research conducted by the University of North Carolina, in a recent nine-year period, at least 24 high school football players died as a result of either spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries they suffered on the playing field. Another four playing college ball also died as a result of their game injuries.

Still, for many young athletes, a football scholarship remains the golden ticket that acts as a springboard to a better life. Even when that is not a consideration, many kids simply want to play out of their pure love for the gridiron game.

Just how dangerous are these sports?

Football, rugby and other contact sports are inherently dangerous to play at both the secondary and university level. The stakes are high and the hits are hard. Linebackers and running backs face the worst dangers as they twist, turn and block for their teammates.

Tackles appear to be the most lethal hit, to no surprise. What is particularly worrisome is that despite the substantial pads and sturdy helmets, these injuries appear to be on the rise.

Tough statistics

The UNC study revealed that there were four times as many deaths from spinal and head injuries from 1965 to 1974 than there were from 2005 to 2014. One reason more survive now is that there have been significant improvements in heath care, as well as rule changes for helmet safety and tackling.

An added problem is that one-fifth of those playing high school ball who suffered fatal TBIs had also suffered a concussive injury less than 30 days from the fatal injury.

If your child suffers a TBI

A teenage athlete who is struck down on the field with a traumatic brain injury may never again enjoy life as they knew it before their trauma. They may require 24-hour care if the injury is severe. Their medical bills and other costs can be astronomical. It may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against those responsible for your child's injuries and damages.

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