Brain injuries cause devastating effects that can linger for many years and even be permanent. The more we learn about how the brain functions, the more we understand how a brain injury can cause these problems. This week, CNN published a story regarding young female athletes who died by suicide after suffering a head injury. The story is sad and troubling, but it also underscores several important points that go unnoticed and underappreciated by defense attorneys.
The first point is that brain injuries are very serious. If a person suffers a concussion, he or she is much more likely to have a significant brain injury. This, however, does not mean that a concussion is a prerequisite for a brain injury diagnosis. Second, the unfortunate reality is that women athletes are far less likely to be properly diagnosed with a head injury because they are not studied as much or as closely as male athletes. This issue is compounded by the fact that women are more susceptible to concussions and have worse and prolonged symptoms after their injury.
The article tells the story of two women, Kelly Catlin and Ellie Soutter, who were both outstanding athletes. Kelly was a US track cyclist, a three-time world champion, and an Olympic silver medalist. Ellie was a snowboarder who was named as one of Team Great Britain’s best contenders for the 2022 Winter Olympics. They were tough athletes and fierce competitors. Kelly’s life was forever changed when she crashed during a downhill ride in Los Angeles. She got back on her bike and finished the ride. She did not have any symptoms at the time, but a short time later she began suffering from a severe headache. The pain was so bad that she could no longer compete. When they looked at her helmet from the LA crash, they saw it had dents in it. That is how hard she hit the road. Her symptoms did not improve. Kelly went through concussion protocol and relaxed her training, but the headaches wouldn’t stop. While she had never suffered from depression before, she soon started showing signs of mental health issues. Ultimately, Kelly died by suicide.
Ellie had a similarly sad and tragic story. She suffered seven major concussions in only five years. Doctors told her dad she was young enough to “bounce back” and be “ok.” Her last concussion was so bad that she spent two nights in the hospital. She didn’t recognize her dad or know where she was. She died by suicide one month before the Junior Snowboard World Championships in New Zealand.
Brain injuries, particularly concussions, are very serious. Even with proper diagnosis, the signs and symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. If someone gets a concussion from a car crash, the traumatic brain injury can result in lifelong problems. Some people may only experience balance and cognitive issues. Others, like Kelly and Ellie, can develop depression. That is why it is so important to find a brain injury lawyer who has the experience and expertise to work up your problems and to identify all of the issues affecting you. Brain injuries cannot be taken lightly. Contact a concussion lawyer at Snyder & Wenner today to discuss further.