In response to growing concern about the dangers of traumatic brain injury, high schools across New York have been adopting new athletic policies that change protocols for removing potentially concussed players from games and practices. Additionally, coaches and other adults are being trained to better spot signs of brain injury and to respond accordingly.
When it comes to concussions, an abundance of caution is perhaps the only reasonable approach. If players who suffer a brain injury are allowed to keep playing, they are at greater risk of further injury which could prove fatal. In fact, the parents of one high school football player recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit after their son allegedly died under such circumstances.
The teenager, who attended school in Mayville, New York, died just three days after collapsing during a football game in September 2013. His parents allege that during the second quarter and at halftime, their son showed "signs of having experienced at least one concussion." Despite this, he was allowed to keep playing. In the third quarter, he likely suffered a subsequent concussion after a particularly hard tackle.
He was able to get up and walk to the bench but collapsed a short time later. The teen died in the hospital three days after that.
The two grieving parents blame their son's school and both school districts involved in the game for lacking a safety policy regarding concussions. They also allege that the boy's coaches had not completed concussion training and certification as required by the state. Moreover, the actions of athletic officials in the wake of their son's collapse were "unplanned, disorganized and unresponsive to the seriousness of his situation."
No parent should have to lose their teenage son or daughter, especially over something as trivial as a high school sporting event. We know the risks of traumatic brain injury and have adopted prevention and response protocols accordingly. This death was almost assuredly preventable and should not have occurred.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Teen Football Player's Death Blamed on New York Schools," Jonathan Perlow, Nov. 20, 2014