Although very few sporting injuries cause death, The main cause of fatalities from a sport-related injury is brain damage or traumatic brain injury. Our heads are tough, and it takes a lot to get through that skull and damage the brain within, but it does happen. Unsurprisingly most traumatic brain injuries are the results of accidents, such as a car wreck, but there are an increasing number of sportsmen being seriously injured. Take cyclists for example, there has been a sharp rise in accidents resulting in frontal lobe damage, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
A TBI, or traumatic brain injury, is defined as being a jolt or blow to the head or an injury that penetrates the skull and disrupts the brains normal functions. TBI usually results when the head violently comes into quick contact with an object, or if such an object pierces the bones of the skull and actually enters the brain’s tissue. Symptoms of traumatic brain injury vary from mild to severe, the extent of damage to the brain determines this. Mild TBI could cause a brief change in the consciousness or mental state of the victim whilst a severe case could result in an extended period of unconsciousness, coma or death. Many sports could result in TBI, being hit by a cricket ball for example or a clash of heads in football.
The definition of concussion is temporary brain injury caused by a blow, joint or bump to the head. Depending on how hard the bang to the head was the concussion can last a few hours, days or weeks. If it renders the victim unconscious emergency treatment will usually be needed and some people can suffer longer lasting effects. This is one of the most common of all head injuries suffered in sports and some level of concussion can be suffered whilst playing almost any sport. Signs of concussion will usually be noticeable with a couple of minutes or hours of the head injury. On rare occasions, however, they won’t present themselves for a few days so even the most innocent looking of head injuries should be monitored for at least 72 hours. Symptoms include; persistent headaches, dizziness, feeling nauseous or being sick, memory loss relating to the accident, balance issues, behaving unusually, feeling confused, dazed or stunned, vision changes or feeling constantly tired.
Commonly referred to as punch drunk, Dementia Pugilistica, or DP, is a rare form of dementia caused by repeated blows to the head or concussions. Not surprisingly, boxers and those who take part in aggressive forms of contact sports are those who suffer the most from DP. It can take years before the first symptoms present themselves, making it difficult to diagnose. It’s thought that around 15-20% of boxers who regularly suffer blows to the head will develop the condition.
A collection of blood outside of the blood vessels is known as a hematoma, or bruise. The most common cause is an injury to the walls of the blood vessels which causes blood to seep out and into surrounding tissue. Bruising occurs when the blood has clotted and is not generally considered serious. However, if the hematoma is accompanied by a bump on the head or it’s possible the brain itself is bruised, further medical treatment is usually given.