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Guide to Baseball-Related Brain Injury

Guide to Baseball-Related Brain Injury

While contact sports such as football and boxing are usually associated with injury to the head, baseball-related brain injury occurs often. It ranks third after bicycling and football in terms of the number of head injuries. Boston University researchers found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in major league baseball players. Ryan Freel, a major league utility player, committed suicide in 2012 after suffering 10 concussions in his career. During the autopsy, it was found that Freel suffered from CTE. Since baseball season is about to begin, let’s look at baseball-related brain injury and rule changes that have the potential of decreasing TBI in players.

What Is Traumatic Brain Injury?

CTE is caused by an accumulation of certain proteins in the brain called tau. The proteins lead to such symptoms as confusion, impaired judgment, and problems with memory. It also causes aggression, motor function difficulties, depression, and suicidal behavior. CTE appears most often in those with repeated head injuries and concussions. The injury results from a blow to the head or one to another part of the body that is transmitted to the head. This disease is diagnosed only by an autopsy. Because of this, it is difficult for researchers to determine how CTE progresses. Some early signs of CTE, along with the others mentioned, include impulsive behavior, apathy, and problems with planning and carrying out tasks. Emotional instability and substance abuse are additional problems seen with CTE.

Ways to Eliminate Baseball Related Head Injuries

Officials are trying to decrease the number of head injuries suffered by major league players. One major rule change is to ban collisions at home plate. This offers protection for the catcher and the runner. By doing this, the number of hi-impact collisions will decrease. Other changes under consideration are:

  • Ban retaliatory beanballs. This occurs when a ball is intentionally thrown at a batter.
  • Discourage running into a thrown ball: Runners may intentionally run into the path of a thrown ball. This can lead to a baseball-related brain injury.
  • Eliminate throws to first base: Sometimes an outfielder will throw the ball at a runner approaching first base.
  • Dissuade runner and fielder collisions: This occurs when an infielder is trying to make a play, and the runner tries to intercept it.

College Baseball

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has noted a greater number of traumatic brain injuries among its players. They report that 29,255 college athletes have suffered concussions. While those playing football experience the most concussions, this is followed by baseball and hockey players. The numbers are probably low, according to other reports, since players will often not report an injury for fear of being sidelined. One study done in 2004 showed that the most frequent causes of concussion in baseball were:

  • Collision between fielders
  • Base runner and fielder collision
  • Pitcher hit by a batted ball
  • A thrown ball hits a pitcher

Changes at the Collegiate Level

In 2011, the NCAA changed bat standards. The change in bat standards limited the speed of a ball hit by a non-wood bat to that of a bat made of wood. This was for Division l players.

Changes That Should Be Made

There are other things the NCAA can do to limit baseball related head injuries. For instance, the helmets should be tested to see if they protect players from head injuries. Batted ball injuries should be surveyed to see if additional restrictions could lessen the number of injuries. Implementing educational training can also help with this task. Future studies of the effect of concussions and minor or sub-concussions should also be made. This would advance knowledge of TBI in sports and promote understanding of its causes, prevention, and management of baseball-related brain injury.

Sacramento Brain Injury Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento brain injury lawyer. TBIs can cause high medical debt and require lifetime care. If a family member died from CTE or you are suffering its symptoms, you may qualify to receive compensation for your injury. This is where an experienced injury lawyer with an understanding of CTE can help. Call me at (916) 921-6400 in Sacramento or (800) 404-5400 nationwide. I can offer you free and friendly advice after reviewing your case. You can reach out to me online also.

I’ve helped many residents of Sacramento and the surrounding area with car accidents, pedestrian injuries and other traumatic events.

I belong to both the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Forum. The first rewards lawyers with a membership who have displayed legal excellence in their practice. The second invites only those attorneys who have won more than $1 million for a client.

Learn more about my practice on the following pages:

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