Athletes Are at High Risk for Vertebral Artery Tears and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI's)

Sadly, 29 year-old Canadian freestyle skier, Sarah Burke died yesterday due to complications from a vertebral artery tear or dissection which led to severe bleeding on the brain and causing her to go into cardiac arrest. She was injured during a training session on January 10, 2012.

A vertebral artery dissection is a flap-like tear in the inside lining of the vertebral artery. Once a tear occurs, blood leaks in between the walls of the artery and forms a blood clot or hematoma. As the clot enlarges, it will cut off the blood supply and oxygen to the brain. The lack of blood flow and oxygen can cause neck pain, head pain, difficulty waking, difficulty speaking, visual loss or blindness, unequal pupils, impaired walking or coordination, impaired swallowing, a stroke, permanent brain damage and death.

Unfortunately, Burke is not the only athlete to sustain a fatal head injury. The following have also died due to extensive brain damage:

  • Dale Earnhardt, an American race car driver, died of a basilar skull fracture.
  • Fabio Casartelli, an Olympic gold medal cyclist, died after he was thrown from his bike and his head hit concrete blocks, leading to severe head injuries.
  • Ray Chapman, an American baseball player, died after being hit in the head with a pitch thrown by Yankees pitcher Carl Mays.
  • Marco Simoncelli, an Italian MotoGP rider, died suddenly after suffering chest, head and neck injuries after losing control of his Honda bike and colliding with other riders.

In addition to the above fatal head trauma accidents, many other athletes, boxers, NHL and NFL players have also suffered traumatic brain injuries due to concussions or repetitive blows to the head. Many times, helmets and other protective gear can minimize the amount of brain damage one would develop after a blow to the head if it is working properly. But, if that head gear or helmet fails to work properly or it is defective, it can lead to devastating brain injuries.

Here at the Philadelphia Beasley brain injury law firm, our lawyers, doctors and nurses have reviewed thousands of cases where traumatic brain injuries were caused by faulty helmets or a negligent act by another person. If you or your loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, please feel free to contact one of experienced attorneys, physicians or trauma nurses at (215) 866-2424 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.