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The Potentially Deadly Effects of Second Impact Syndrome

By: Anapol Weiss

Second impact syndrome is a rare but potentially fatal condition that can result after a second concussion occurs while the brain is still healing from a previous concussion. Second impact syndrome involves brain swelling and bleeding that leads to permanent brain damage or death. It can occur up to several weeks after a concussion diagnosis, according to an article by the University of Washington Medicine.

Symptoms of second impact syndrome are similar to concussion symptoms, but may also include:

  • Failure of the lungs to contract and breath normally

  • Unequal size of the eye’s pupils

  • Coma

  • Personality changes

It’s important to protect athletes from second impact syndrome. According to an article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, players who experience one or more concussion symptoms after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body should be immediately removed from play and kept out of play until a health care professional – one who is experienced in evaluating concussions – says they are symptom-free and clears them to play.

The dangers of football concussions, particularly in high school, have been specifically highlighted in the media due to the increased danger of second impact syndrome and permanent brain damage in adolescent athletes. However, a 2013 survey found that nearly all high school football players know the risks of returning to play with concussion symptoms, but more than half said they would “… always or sometimes continue to play with a headache sustained from an injury.” It is therefore incumbent on those responsible to enforce concussion guidelines to protect all players from traumatic brain injury.

Athletes of all ages are suffering potentially lifelong impairment from second impact syndrome, and it’s completely avoidable. Contact our firm for assistance if you or someone in your care has suffered from second impact syndrome due to the failure of others to follow proper concussion guidelines.