High School Football Player Dies after Severe Head Injury during Game

September 19, 2013

4620555235_cf48118bfd.jpgTraumatic brain injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that a 16-year-old football player recently passed away after suffering severe head trauma during a high school football game. The teen died in the hospital three days after the helmet-to-helmet collision.

The upper-New York football player lost consciousness after the hit and, after his death was confirmed, all competitive sporting events in the Brocton and Westfiled school districts were cancelled. Since 2011 at least two other high school athletes have died during fall sports: a 16-year-old in New York collapsed during a football game from severe brain bleeding, which he suffered after forceful bodily contact. Another New York teen, a 14-year-old, died while preparing for a cross country meet after falling to a coma triggered by a cardiac arrest.

Deaths and injuries are not exclusive to football. Since 2000, three high school lacrosse players have died from injuries sustained while playing. One teen was fatally struck in the back of the head with a lacrosse ball; another died from a ball to the chest while goal-tending. The third player died after being checked during practice, causing a cardiac arrest.

The deaths are rekindling the conversation among parents, high school athletes and officials over the safety of football. We have written extensively about the NFL concussion lawsuit, which recently settled for $765 million. Over the past decade or so there has been an incredible amount of research done on the effects of repeated concussions and head injuries in professional and college athletes.

Findings from this research have been worrisome, to say the least, revealing that by far the most dangerous practice for athletes of every age is helmet-to-helmet hits. Officials in every level of the sport, from the NFL to youth programs, have largely eradicated these types of hits and other collisions known to cause considerable trauma.

Due to the nature of the sport, however, helmet-to-helmet hits do occasionally happen despite their ban, and injuries from such hits will never fully disappear. Just a few days ago in Minnesota, another 16-year-old football player suffered a severe head injury during a game. Fortunately, he is alive, though in serious condition at a local hospital after undergoing emergency brain surgery.

His injury, however, was not immediately evident. After the collision the linebacker remained on the field for several plays, eventually stumbling around disoriented, falling into seizures and throwing up. He became unresponsive and was airlifted to the hospital, going into surgery around 12:20 a.m. Due to immense swelling and bleeding physicians had to remove the right side of his skull.

This is the second time in two years the teen has suffered a head injury from football; he had to sit out games his freshman year due to a concussion. His father told reporters that he's always encouraged his son to "tough it out," however, after seeing the very real effects of head trauma, he has had a change of heart. He plans to speak publicly to parents of high school athletes and encourage them to tell their kids to sit out when they feel at all uneasy.

Recently in Winnepeg, Canada, a football played filed a lawsuit against his university over injuries suffered during a football game. The player, Kevin Kwasny, is still working to regain his mobility two years after the injury. Kwasny was a defensive end for Bishop University in Quebec, and he claims that coaches negligently kept him in the game after he suffered a hit, despite feelings of dizziness, blurred vision and soreness.

He was put back in the game a few plays later, was hit again, and taken to the hospital in critical condition during halftime. He suffered severe bleeding on the brain and lost movement on his entire right side as stroke patients sometimes do. Two years later, he is still living in a rehabilitation center, undergoing therapy and working to regain his mobility and strength. His fingers and arms are moving now, however, he has not fully regained mobility in his leg.

Traumatic head injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins have decades of experience advocating on behalf of those suffering from serious head trauma. The Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is a member of the Brain Injury Association of Illinois and has extensive experiencing handling these unique cases. If you have any questions about a potential head injury case, contact an attorney today for a free, no-obligation consultation.