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Minor bumps can cause serious brain trauma

Louisiana athletes at all levels may be aware of the increasing cautions taken when head injuries occur during sports activities. Careful evaluation of symptoms has become an important part of the protocol after an athlete takes a blow to the head. However, it is equally important to recognize that injury can occur without any blows to the head. While athletes should continue to be treated with appropriate precautions after obvious head injuries, greater attention must be paid to the cumulative effects of head bumps that cannot be observed.

As the brain moves inside the skull, it can bump into the skull with enough force to cause damage. With the help of MRI studies, researchers have identified that simple movements can lead to a low oscillation rate of approximately 5 hertz. This action can be produced through simply entering a room or turning one's head. The oscillation rate in a contact sport can be four times as intense. A concussion can happen in a matter of just a second or two. However, the ongoing effect of tiny internal bumps to the brain during an entire game could be just as serious.

This research is important because the majority of traumatic brain injuries occurring in the United States each year are mild, not involving concussions. The issue of brain inertia causing serious brain injuries may lead to improved helmet design and additional preventive actions to limit the risk of TBI for those who participate in sports for various reasons.

A student athlete who is faced with symptoms of brain injury without experiencing a blow to the head should seek appropriate medical attention. If proper preventive measures have not been taken during practices and games, a personal injury claim might be possible. Legal counsel may be important for evaluating whether this is an appropriate step.

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