Concussions are a common problem for Olympic Athletes

October 31, 2017, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Olympic athletes work tremendously hard to make it to the top of their sport. By and large they aren’t well paid and their future earning potential is low but for the very few ‘glamour’ sports that have a professional side (like figure skating).

Unlike pro athletes most lack good health benefits, and LTD insurance. Unlike pro athletes they aren’t making hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars a year preparing them for a shortened ‘work’ time. Unlike pro athletes they often lack advocates to change the system, to enact better safety measures, and they lack a union.

What they do have is a concussion problem.

A recent CBC news article reported that one in three of the 2018 Canadian Winter Olympians have suffered at least one concussion. Obviously not all sports have the same risk of concussion. Downhill skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, luge, bobsled, hockey and figure skating all carry extremely high concussion rates.

These are self admitted rates of concussion, and we know that up to half of all concussions are never reported. We also know that as few as 4 sub concussive events can result in a the symptoms of  a concussion. Some athletes who have a concussion return to sport very quickly and are lucky to not suffer long term symptoms nor another concussion. Other athletes are not that lucky.

There are many cases of athletes returning to the sport and suffering subsequent concussions which cause cognitive and physical decline. For some it means the end of their careers and the start of a lifetime of health and mental issues.

The more we learn about how and why concussion occurs, the more we need to be concerned about the long-term impacts to the individuals. Return to play protocols need to be updated regularly to reflect the newest research. The protocols must be seen as a protective measure and not a punitive one. For athletes though, who have a short career and who may be peaking in their performance cycle and competition cycle, being benched can be a hard pill to swallow.

The Canadian government issued guidelines on concussions in sport in July of this year in an attempt to help people understand how concussion occurs, what impact it can have in the short and long term, and how recovery can be encouraged. The guidelines address 7 key areas:

  1. Pre-season education
  2. Head injury recognition
  3. Onsite medical assessment
  4. Medical assessment
  5. Concussion management
  6. Multidisciplinary concussion care
  7. Return to sport

You can read the report here, and please share it with your athlete friends and coaches.

Posted under Accident Benefit News, Brain Injury, Concussion Syndrome

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

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