What started as one lawsuit against the NFL has blossomed into 150 as more and more players seek compensation for the traumatic brain injuries they sustained during their careers. Players and safety advocates say the NFL knew of the dangers of concussions but failed to pull injured players from the game and failed to warn them of the long-term effects of a TBI.

But football is not the only sport that carries a risk of a brain injury. A professional soccer player recently filed a lawsuit against his team and the team’s coach that is sadly similar to the football players’ claims. The player says the head coach and the team doctors ignored his symptoms and returned him to play without first determining the extent of his injuries. As a result, he and his wife say, he suffered a permanent TBI.

In a September 2009 game, the player collided with a player from the opposing team, and the opponent’s shoulder blade struck the player just behind his right temple. The force of the blow caused the player’s neck to snap violently back to the left, according to his complaint.

The crash did not knock him out, though, and the player stood up on his own. He was dazed, but he finished the game. The team doctor never left his seat to determine the severity of the player’s injury.

Afterward, though, according to the complaint, he reported to the team doctors that he “did not feel right,” that the lights appeared hazy and that his peripheral vision was gone. The next few days were marked by headaches and fatigue, but the coach, who was reportedly aware of the player’s symptoms, put him back on the field in a game just three days after the accident. The team doctors did not perform follow-up exams and did not evaluate the player to determine if he was fit to enter the game.

The game went badly, and the player felt even worse when it was over — the dizziness was worse, his reactions were slow. His behavior, he says, was typical of people who had sustained a concussion. Once again, he told the team doctors about his symptoms. This time, he was told the staff would “monitor” him, but neither the doctors nor the coach examined him.

The team did have a policy and guidelines for evaluating and treating players suspected of having a concussion. If the doctors or the coach had followed the guidelines, the player would have undergone a neuro-cognitive test after the injury that would have shown any changes from the required pre-season test. But nothing was done.

Now, he and his wife are asking for $32 million to compensate them for his injuries. The TBI caused permanent cognitive deficits and memory problems, chronic headaches and balance problems, sleep issues and problems with his vision. And, he says, he also suffers from emotional distress and embarrassment as a result of the team’s negligence.

Source: Courthouse News, “Concussion Ruined Him, Soccer Player Says,” Ryan Abbott, Sept. 11, 2012

Our firm helps people who have sustained a traumatic brain injury like the one discussed in this post. Please visit our Portland traumatic brain injury page to learn more about our practice.