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Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion in Sports (News & Guidance)

De Caro & Kaplen partner Michael V. Kaplen, a three-term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and professorial lecturer at law, teaching a course in brain injury law at the George Washington University Law School, discusses news and updates related to traumatic brain injury in sports, including football (NFL), soccer, and rugby.

Click the links below to jump to a video breakdown, along with a short summary.

Football (NFL)

NCAA Lawsuit – This is CRAZY

Michael Kaplen discusses the crazy witness testimony in the lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) charging them with negligence in the death of former USC linebacker Matthew Gee, who played between 1988 and 1992-92.

The Gross Mishandling Of Tua Tagovailoa’s Concussion

Michael Kaplen discusses the gross mishandling of Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion, and why it’s time the NFL were held fully accountable for their negligence.

NFL ‘Race-Norming’ Update

Michael Kaplen updates on the ‘race-norming’ controversy, which denied (and continues to deny) many players the compensation they were entitled to in the NFL class action brain injury case.

Study Demonstrates Causal Link Between Repetitive Head Impacts and CTE

Michael Kaplen discusses important news about a new study which demonstrates a clear causal link between repetitive head impacts and CTE.

Survey Finds Half Of Americans Believe Tackle Football Is Inappropriate For Children

Michael Kaplen discusses the findings of a new survey, which revealed that 46% of Americans believe tackle football is an inappropriate sport for children.

Brett Favre Calls For End To Tackling in under-14 football

Michael Kaplen discusses a new public service campaign from the Concussion Legacy Foundation and fronted by Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, which calls for an end to tackling in under-14 football. But as welcome as the campaign is, does it go far enough?

Race Norming in the NFL Class Action Brain Injury Lawsuit

Michael Kaplen discusses “Race norming” – a biased, and flawed methodology which continues to deny many players involved in the NFL class action brain injury lawsuit the compensation they are entitled to.


Post World Cup, It’s Time For A Total Ban On Heading In Soccer

While the World Cup was packed with excellent soccer, there were a number of incidents throughout the tournament which highlighted the damage that heading the ball, and other impacts can cause to the brain. In this video, Michael Kaplen argues that, post World Cup, it’s time FIFA and other associations reflect, then take decisive and immediate action on heading and concussions in soccer.

Trial Banning Heading In Soccer For Under-12s Approved In England

Michael discusses the recent approval of a trial in England banning heading in soccer for under-12s, and the known links between heading a soccer ball and brain injury.

Heading In English Soccer – New Guidelines

Michael V. Kaplen discusses new guidelines introduced by the English Football Association that aim to limit heading the soccer ball in training. But do these new guidelines go far enough?

Concussion & Head Injury In Soccer (New Substitution Rules)

Michael Kaplen discusses some important new rules regarding substitutions in soccer. The new rules, which were recently introduced by the English Premier League, allow for extra substitutions when a player is removed from the field for evaluation of a suspected concussion or head injury.


Former Rugby Union Players Take Legal Action Over Brain Injuries

Michael Kaplen discusses news of a huge class action suit on behalf of 185 former rugby players against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union, and the Welsh Rugby Union. The players, represented by Rylands Law in the UK, have been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and other irreversible neurological impairments.

Information About Sports, Concussions, & Brain Injury

Some Important Facts about Sports Concussions

  • A sports concussion is a brain injury.
  • All sports concussions are serious.
  • Sports concussions can occur without loss of consciousness.
  • Sports concussions can occur in any sport.
  • Recognition and proper management of Sports Concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death.

What Is a Concussion?

A sports concussion is caused by a blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. Any traumatic brain injury can change the way your brain normally functions. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.

Concussions can also result from a fall or from players colliding with each other or with obstacles, such as a goalpost.

Concussions can occur in any sport or recreation activity. All coaches, parents, and athletes need to learn concussion signs and symptoms and the proper steps to take if a sports concussion occurs.

All concussions or suspected concussions must be taken seriously. An athlete should be immediately removed from play if a suspected concussion takes place

An athlete should never be allowed to return to play until he or she obtains medical clearance from a trained concussion professional.

How Can I Recognize a Possible Sports Concussion?

To help recognize a sports concussion, you should be on the alert for:

  • A forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head.


  • Any change in the athlete’s behavior, thinking, or physical functioning.

Athletes who experience any of the signs and symptoms listed below after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body should be kept out of play the day of the injury . They can return to play when a health care professional, experienced in evaluating for concussion, determines that they are symptom-free.

Remember:  When in doubt, keep them out!

Signs Observed by Coaching Staff:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about assignment or position
  • Forgets an instruction
  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
  • Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall
  • Can’t recall events after hit or fall

Symptoms Reported by Athlete:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Does not “feel right” or is “feeling down

You can’t tell a concussion just by looking at an athlete

It is important to remember that you can’t see a concussion by observation and some athletes may not experience and/or report symptoms until hours or days after the injury. It may take days or even weeks for some of the signs and symptoms of a sports concussion to develop.

Any time a sports concussion is suspected, it is important to have the player evaluated by a trained concussion professional before being allowed to resume sporting or educational activities.

Prevent long-term problems.

A concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first can increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases suffering a second concussion before the brain fully heals can result in brain swelling and even death. Permanent brain damage is known to take place in players who have sustained repeated sports concussions.

This more serious condition involving repetitive concussions is called “second impact syndrome”.

It is important that an athlete be removed from play and not be allowed to return until properly evaluated for a concussion.

“It’s better to miss one game than the whole season.”

Where can you get more information on concussions?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)
4770 Buford Hwy, NE
MS F-63
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717
TTY: (888) 232-6348
24 Hours/Every Day

About The Author

Michael V. Kaplen

Michael V. Kaplen represents victims of vehicle collisions, unsafe buildings and construction sites, and medical malpractice, and is a preferred attorney of The Brain Injury Association of America.

Michael is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate and board certified in medical malpractice litigation. He is a Professorial Lecturer in Law, The George Washington University Law School, The Legal Aspects of Traumatic Brain Injury.

Michael is past chairman of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Automobile, Highway and Premise Liability Section, past chairman of the AAJ Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, three term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State served two terms as chair of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council and vice-president, New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers.

He was invited by President Obama to participate in the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit.

He is admitted to courts in New York, Florida, and Washington, DC. He has been selected as a New York Super Lawyer and recognized by Best Lawyers of America and U.S. News and World Report in personal injury law.

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