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Some brain injuries can only be diagnosed after death

Safety advocates in Ontario have several programs and awareness campaigns in place to inform athletes and parents about the risks posed by contact sports. Parents learn that a bump to a child's head or even a vigorous shaking of the head can cause traumatic brain injuries. They are urged to look for signs and symptoms of concussions, and safety programs inform them of the consequences of repeat concussions.

In contrast, chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a brain condition that is degenerative, and it typically affects boxers and professional football players. Unfortunately, there are no telltale signs to indicate this disease because it is only identifiable during an autopsy. CTE is different to concussions, and although both follow blows to the head, concussions are reversible. However, CTE is an irreversible, neurodegenerative disease that could leave a brain of an athlete in his or her twenties with a brain comparable to that of a 60-year-old person. It might be likened to dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

The brain is suspended in cerebrospinal fluid that protects it from injury as it moves about in the skull. A single incident of a severe blow or whiplash-like motion can cause damage as the brain slams into the skull, known as concussion. However, CTE follows repeated events of brain trauma at a level that ultimately causes the neurological condition that gets worse as time passes. Authorities say until CTE can be diagnosed and treated before death, the only commonality between CTE and concussion is the fact that it involves brain damage that typically follows contact sports participation.

With this information in mind, Ontario parents might be wise to be aware of any injuries their children suffer during sports activities at school or sports clubs. Teachers, coaches and other authorities are responsible for the safety of young athletes. If children suffer brain injuries as a result of the negligence of supervisory adults, the parent might be entitled to pursue financial relief. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide the necessary support and guidance.

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