The National Trial Lawyers Top 100
MATA Member 2017 - Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys
AV Kenneth I. Kolpan 2016
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Multi Million Dollar Advocates Forum

Brain Injuries from Sports

"The most common brain injury in sports is a concussion. According to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is an estimated 300,000 sports-related concussions in the United States each year." This quote is significant for two reasons: concussions are occurring in sports at an alarming rate and the CDC has affirmed that a concussion is more accurately described as a [traumatic] brain injury. 

Boston brain injury law has devoted his professional career to representing and advocating for those who have brain injuries including athletes.  A frequent speaker, Attorney Kolpan has presented talks on this subject to trainers, physicians, coaches, athletic directors both locally and in New England (including at Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots and New England Revolution.

Though brain injuries have been recognized since the days of Hippocrates, sports related brain injuries have had less notoriety through the years until recently.  In sports jargon, when someone sustained what was probably a concussion, it was referred to as a “ding” or a person “had their bell rung” [it is reported that some individuals heard a bell like sound when they were struck], commentators inferring it was nothing to be concerned about.  Knockouts whether it be from a punch in hockey, boxing or elsewhere were applauded ignoring the fact that the knocked out person had been concussed, he had had a traumatic brain injury. 

But as we have learned, due to the medical research of Dr. Ann McKee and Dr. Robert Cantu and the leadership of Chris Nowinski, all the Sports Legacy Institute (Boston, Massachusetts), concussions, especially repeated concussions (including subclinical concussions) can increase the risk of early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia and CTE.  Fortunately, sports concussions are being recognized for what they are: brain injuries, which place the athlete at increased risk for significant cognitive and emotional problems unless the sports concussion is properly recognized.

To prevent further injury and minimize sports brain injuries, athletes must be properly equipped, trained, evaluated and treated. But concussions happen with increased frequency in sports involving recreation or professional athletes, kids or adults. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, (, “a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is an estimated 300,000 sports-related concussions in the United States each year. Brain injuries cause more deaths than any other sports injury. In football for instance, brain injury accounts for 65 to 85% of all fatalities."

As with recent published sports concussion guidelines, there is concern about the cumulative effect of an athlete incurring a repeat concussion because of what is sometimes referred to as the "second impact syndrome" where a second multiple concussions occur before the athlete has had time and treatment to recover from the initial concussion.  Therefore, return to play guidelines have been established by states (following the Leystedt Law of the State of Washington), amateur and professional leagues.  Protocols should be in place and followed allowing athletes of all ages and skill levels from Pop Warner to the NFL, from Pee Wee Hockey to the NHL, from Youth Soccer to FIFA, from Little League to Major League. 

Those responsible for overseeing athletes should be aware of the guidelines so as not to place an athlete at increased risk for further injury. We invite you read more about brain injury litigation here on our website. For further information, you may contact our office online or call us at 617.426.2558.