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Toronto Personal Injury Law Blog

Brain injuries: Prompt medical care is key to injury management

Ontario is a leader in Canada when it comes to concussions in youth sports -- providing education and management guidance to help victims cope with the aftermath. The most significant myth about brain injuries to overcome is that a blow to the head causes a concussion, whereas some concussions are suffered without any impact to the head. Many concussions go untreated because people are unaware of the available rehabilitation programs.

Sometimes, concussions are not reported because the symptoms are not recognized. It is often called an invisible injury because to coaches, colleagues, friends and family, the injured person might seem fine. Symptoms and telltale signs of concussion could develop during the hours and days after the occurrence of the injury. Indications of possible brain injuries include cognitive, behavioural and physical changes.

Brain injuries: What to do if you suffered a concussion

Concussions might happen easier than what many people in Ontario realize. Concussions are brain injuries that can occur even without a blow to the head. The violent shaking of the brain inside the skull in a car accident or on the sports field can leave victims suffering from this condition. This is not something to ignore, and although most concussions heal within a short time, proper diagnosis, treatment and monitoring are crucial.

Parents are advised to explain the symptoms of concussion to their children and encourage them to tell a parent, teacher or coach. Some children keep quiet about it for fear of losing their spots on the team, but repeated trauma to the brain can have long-term consequences. A visit to the emergency room or a consultation with a physician as soon as possible is vital.

Brain injuries: How to deal with initial concussion recovery

Research into the causes and consequences of concussions is ongoing, and so is determining the dos and don'ts of the recovery process. What many people in Ontario might not realize is that concussions are brain injuries caused by the brain slamming into the walls of the skull during sports activities or car accidents, and repeated incidents could exacerbate the long-term consequences. One thing that is clear is that a medical evaluation is crucial for anyone who shows signs of head trauma.

Mental and physical rest is recommended for the first two days after the incident that caused the concussion, and if the doctor approves, the injured person can make a gradual return to physical activities. Gradual is the key word here, as any subsequent sudden movement of the brain inside the skull could worsen the symptoms. Caution is required with playing sports and doing household chores, but riding bikes, driving cars, working with heavy equipment and climbing ladders might be best avoided until the doctor approves of such activities to be resumed.

Brain injuries: Concern re undiagnosed concussions in children

A neurosurgeon from Toronto recently spoke to health care professionals, local coaches, athletes and representatives of sports organizations about the prevalence of concussions among active schoolchildren in Ontario. He expressed his concern about the fact that many injuries among participants in school sports suffer concussions that are not recognized as brain injuries. He notes that the correct response to sport-related concussions is essential.

The doctor says many concussions are seen as insignificant, cases of moments of 'seeing stars' and then getting right back to play. Some victims are given a few days of rest, but in many cases, they are expected to get over it immediately. The problem is the fact that concussions are invisible injuries, and no technology is yet available for immediate diagnosis of a concussion. Clinical diagnosis relies on the injured child to report nausea, headaches, light and noise sensitivity to their parents, coaches or doctors.

Brain injuries affect both victims and caregivers

Some injuries are invisible, which makes it difficult for others to understand the challenges faced by the victim. Brain injuries fall into this category. They can happen in the blink of an eye but have life-long consequences. Acquired brain injuries can occur in an instant, and whether it is caused by a car accident in Ontario or an incident on the sports field, it offers victims and their loved ones no preparation time for immediate and long-term challenges.

Even concussions can lead to endless medical appointments with health practitioners and specialists. While the physical impact of brain injuries are treated, the psychological and emotional symptoms might be pushed to the background. Some victims develop behavioural problems such as personality changes, poor social skills and communication problems along with cognitive deficits.

Catastrophic Brain Injuries Follow Baseball Bat Attack

While concussions in contact sports and head trauma in automobile accidents are frequent subjects of conversation in Ontario, the consequences of assaults can be devastating. A mother in another province recently explained how an assault that left her son with traumatic brain injuries affected their lives. Her 21-year-old son lives in a 24-hour care facility where she spends as much time as possible to be with him.

According to the mother, in June 2016 her son and some friends celebrated their graduation at a house party. While walking home after the party, he unintentionally wandered onto a property where the homeowner attacked him with a baseball bat. Multiple strikes to the head left the teen with catastrophic brain injuries, and after brain surgery, he remained in a coma for the following 10 months.

Can heading a soccer ball cause brain injuries?

Concussions in different types of contact sports have received extensive attention in Ontario in recent months. Many former athletes are suffering the consequences of traumatic brain injuries that went unnoticed and unaddressed when they were younger and still actively participating in sports. While authorities agree that protection against concussions is essential from the time young children start playing contact sports, some believe soccer players face unrecognized risks.

Neuroscience professors who researched concussions at a university in another province say studies show that soccer players who use their heads to strike soccer balls face risks of concussions. Although soccer is not regarded as a contact sport because it does not involve tackling or hitting pucks with hockey sticks, players are encouraged to hit soccer balls with their heads. It is surprising that no one has yet questioned the fact that those players wear no head protection.

Many Myths Exist About Brain Injuries and Concussions

There is no shortage of information about concussions out there, but not all are accurate. Sports-related brain injuries are prevalent, and it is crucial for coaches, parents and others involved in sports in Ontario to separate myths from facts. Negligence by administrators could have legal consequences.

 

The financial and emotional toll of brain injuries can be severe

Two years ago, an 18-year-old woman in Ontario was hospitalized in critical condition. She was a rear seat passenger in a car that was involved in a crash that left her barely alive. Her aorta and bladder were torn, her lungs collapsed, and she had a fractured pelvis. Doctors had little hope because she suffered massive brain injuries that left her with bleeding on the brain, and she spent the following six weeks in a coma.

Against the expectations of medical professionals that she would be severely disabled if she survived, the young woman's will to recover took her back the campus of Western University barely six months later. She managed to attend summer school and catch up with her studies, allowing her to walk across the stage and accept her bachelor's degree in Medical Sciences (Honours). She is currently studying for a Global Health master's degree at McMaster University.

Now is the time to prevent falls that could cause brain injuries

Heading into winter, people across Canada, including Ontario, will be at a higher risk of slips or trips that lead to falls. Safety authorities say falls cause most brain injuries, and with the slippery conditions caused by ice and snow, they can happen at home, workplaces, shopping malls, restaurants, grocery stores and at entertainment events. Slippery surfaces could include sidewalks, stairways and interior walkways, as well as potential slip-and-trip hazards inside stores.

While most people take precautions to prevent such accidents in and around their homes, not all property owners are vigilant enough when it comes to prevention of slip-and-fall accidents. Abrasions, bruises, cracked or fractured ribs and limbs, back injuries and head trauma are all potential but preventable injuries typically caused by falls. Some could cause long-term health problems or even death.

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