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Symposium highlights dangers of sports injuries

Recently, a panel discussion held at Villanova University highlighted the dangers and symptoms of concussions caused by sports. The discussion was held as part of the school's sports law symposium, and it included a running back from the Philadelphia Eagles, a former player for the Green Bay Packers and several hockey and soccer players. The participants hoped to draw attention to the debilitating effects of brain damage caused by sports injuries and the resulting decline in the quality of life for players. Among the physical and mental consequences discussed were memory loss, headaches, dizziness and the possible development of dementia. The panel's participants want to change the culture within the sports world which emphasizes victory at any cost, even at the expense of the player's health.

The experiences of two participants stand out in particular. The first came from the former Eagles running back, who stated that his short-term memory was devastated by sports-related concussions. He stated that a series of concussions cut his promising career in football short, and that he returned to playing too soon after suffering a serious concussion and was injured again as a result. He concluded that nobody in sports should be rushed back into the game after suffering a concussion without being cleared by doctors and that independent physicians not susceptible to pressure from the team are the best option to treat players.

The second participant was a former hockey player who was a captain for the Philadelphia Flyers. He shared his experiences with four documented concussions in his hockey career, although he stated that he might have experienced others since he started playing at age five. After suffering his first concussion while playing for the Hartford Whalers, doctors simply ordered a period of rest. The player retired prematurely when even routine skating practice caused him headaches and dizziness, and today he runs a website dedicated to fighting concussions.

Because of the potentially severe physical handicaps that can result from repeated brain injury, concussions caused by sports injuries are a serious threat to players. Fortunately, all those affected by this problem may seek worker's compensation benefits for their injuries if they occur in the workplace. In this way, they may cover medical and other expenses and ensure that their livelihood is protected.

Source:, "Former standouts from Eagles, Flyers speak out, spread awareness for head injuries," Dan Gelston, March 15, 2013

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