Misdiagnosed Concussions in the NFL (and at Home)
According to a recently published NPR article, the NFL and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are ending their partnership for concussion research, with $16 million of the NFL’s pledged money left unspent. The end of this relationship, along with the NFL’s apparent unwillingness to follow through with its original pledge, brings up a larger conversation about how seriously the medical community is taking the effects of concussion injuries.
Not Seriously Enough?
A recent study showed that all but one of 111 NFL football players’ brains had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease linked to repeated blows to the head. These findings are so serious that Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel retired just two days after the study was published, wanting to preserve his brain as he continues his education and prepares to be a father.
So, if even NFL players are getting concussions that go untreated or misdiagnosed or just underestimated, what’s happening to everyday young athletes across the country?
Why Concussions Are Missed
Studies estimate that over a million people suffer from traumatic brain injuries each year. The truth is, however, that traumatic brain injuries like concussions are among the most misunderstood health issues in medicine. Because the symptoms of a concussion vary, doctors can misdiagnose them or miss them altogether, and many people ignore the signs or don’t seek treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some concussion symptoms may not appear right away, but they usually fall into four categories:
- Thinking (difficulty processing information)
- Physical (headache, dizziness)
- Emotional (irritable, mood swings)
- Sleep (sleeping more or less than usual)
When a concussion goes untreated, more serious symptoms can emerge, like vision disturbances, confusion, changes in speech or behavior, nausea or vomiting, loss of consciousness, impaired balance, and even seizures. It may also be harder to treat post-concussion syndrome—when symptoms last for more than three months after the injury—if you were not diagnosed in the first place.
Take Your Concussion Seriously
The criticism surrounding the NFL’s handling of brain injuries may be a good thing; more public awareness about concussions is a big step in limiting misdiagnoses. If you know what a concussion looks like, you are more likely to consult your doctor with concerns about a possible brain injury.
If you think you may have a misdiagnosed concussion, and have suffered from additional symptoms as a result, you should consider speaking with a Kansas City medical malpractice attorney at Norton & Norfleet, P.C. While you may think of “medical malpractice” as something like a surgical error, if your doctor misdiagnoses or altogether misses a concussion, that can lead to further brain issues, and you should be compensated if the doctor was negligent in his duty to you. Speak to us at (816) 454-5800 to set up a free consultation.