UNC Study Reports Higher Levels of Brain Injury Deaths Among High School Football Players

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Thomas Soldan is an attorney who focuses on criminal matters such as reckless driving and DUI/DWI as well as personal injury litigation such as brain injury and wrongful death as a result of the negligence of others. He is licensed to practice in Virginia.

The dangers of head injuries for football players are well known, and helmet technology has tried to keep pace over the last few decades as more research has been done regarding the effects of traumatic brain injury.

A new University of North Carolina (UNC) study, released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday, January 5, reports that the annual death count for high school football players due to brain-related injuries has risen slightly.

The study, conducted by UNC’s National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, outlined a few important trends related to brain injury deaths in high school football players, using data collected since 1965.

Although head and spine injury fatalities were four times higher in high school football players from the years 1965 to 1974, the downward trend stabilized in the 1990s and an upward tick has occurred since 2010.

Researchers found that the causes and frequencies of the injuries may have something to do with their level of fatality. Most of the deaths occurred from tackling or being tackled during games, and the study also notes that athletes with previous concussions or other brain injuries were more susceptible to fatalities.

This is concerning for medical professionals who study sports-related injuries, as new technology and better preventative care should, in theory, be helping the death toll decrease each year. The numbers should be going down, or at the most, leveling off – not going up.

The study will hopefully reignite discussions surrounding proper medical care for brain and spinal cord injuries, emergency planning, and even state laws regarding traumatic brain injuries.



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