Traumatic Brain Injury and Sports By Sean Burke on June 17, 2019

Football players getting tackledAthletic activity offers many benefits; it is good for your health, can boost your self-esteem, and helps you build better social skills. However, there is always a risk of injury when playing sports. This risk can increase when proper safety precautions are not in place.

A traumatic brain injury can occur when an athlete suffers a hit to the head. At Burke Law in Irvine, CA, Sean M. Burke represents athletes that have suffered a serious head injury due to another person or party’s negligent actions. If you suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a sports-related accident, contact our practice for a case review.

Sports that Most Commonly Result in Brain Injury

A serious brain injury can occur when athletes are engaged in a single-player sport like biking or a team sport like football. According to the American Association for Neurological Surgeons, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that in 2009, 446,788 sports-related head injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms.

Team Sports and Brain Injury

The team sports with the highest number of brain injuries include:

  • Football: 46,948
  • Baseball and softball: 38,394
  • Basketball: 34,692
  • Soccer: 24,184
  • Hockey: 8,145
  • Rugby and lacrosse: 5,794

Solo Sports and Brain Injury

The single-player sports or activities with the highest number of brain injuries include:

  • Cycling: 85,389
  • Skateboards and scooters: 23,114
  • Winter sports such as skiing, sledding, snowboarding, and snowmobiling: 16,948
  • Horseback riding: 14,466
  • Golf: 10,035

Other Sports and Recreational Activities

Other sports and recreational activities that can cause brain injuries include:

  • Water sports, such as diving, scuba diving, surfing, swimming, water polo, water skiing, water tubing: 28,716
  • Recreational vehicles such as ATVs, dune buggies, go-carts, mini bikes, off-road bikes: 26,606
  • Fitness, exercise, and health club: 18,012
  • Gymnastics, dance, and cheerleading: 10,223
  • Trampolines: 5,919
  • Roller and inline skating: 3,320
  • Ice skating: 4,608
  • Other: 6,883


According to the CPSC report, cycling was the sport or recreational activity that resulted in the most emergency room visits for head injury, with more than 85,000 patients seeking treatment. Unfortunately, negligent or reckless drivers, improperly maintained roads, or defective biking equipment may play a role in causing the accident or increase the severity of the injury.

Contact our Irvine practice to schedule a time for a case evaluation so we can determine if you should pursue legal action.


Football is the second most common sport or recreational activity to result in emergency room visits for head injuries. The long-term risk of concussions and the diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in deceased NFL players has raised awareness of the dangers of football; however, critics have argued that football leagues and coaches have been slow to respond with proper safety and concussion protocol.

Types of Brain Injury

There are several types of brain injury that can occur in response to a blow to the head:

  • Concussion: A concussion can cause temporary problems with coordination, balance, and memory. With proper rest, patients can heal. However, failure to rest after a concussion or repeated concussions can result in long-term effects.
  • Contusion: A contusion refers to bleeding or bruising of the brain tissues.
  • Coup-contrecoup brain injuries: Coup-contrecoup brain injuries occur as a result of a more severe impact to the head. These occur when the force causes the brain to hit one side of the skull and then hit the opposite side.
  • Diffuse axonal injury (DAI): A DAI injury results in such violent shaking of the brain that the connections within the brain begin to tear.
  • Second impact or recurrent brain injury: When an athlete suffers a second brain injury, the effects are likely to be more severe.

Contact Our Practice

To meet with attorney Sean Burke to discuss your case, contact us online or call us in Irvine at (949) 644-3434.

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