Written By: Salvatore Shaw and Aidan Vining, Student-at-Law
Today, September 29, is Rowan’s Law Day. Rowan’s Law Day falls on the last Wednesday of every September and is dedicated to raising awareness about concussions and promoting brain safety.
Rowan’s Law Day is named in memory of Rowan Stringer, a high school rugby player from Ottawa that died at the age of 17 in 2013 after suffering multiple concussions in a very short time frame. It is believed that she suffered three concussions over six days while playing rugby. After suffering her first concussion, Rowan was not advised that her brain needed time to properly heal before participating in further physical activity. She returned to playing rugby and re-injured her brain.
Rowan’s tragic death likely could have been prevented if her coaches, parents, or teachers were better informed about the impacts of concussions and brain injuries. Unfortunately, many people do not fully understand the severity of concussions and other brain injuries. In the spirit of Rowan’s Law Day and in the memory of Rowan, we have provided an overview of some different types of brain injuries in the hopes of raising awareness.
A brain contusion is a bruise on the brain that might occur from a blow to the head or fall. Brain contusions can be limited to small areas with mild or no symptoms. More severe brain contusions can lead to memory challenges, difficulty speaking or understanding language or changes in personality.
A concussion is a type of brain injury that results from a blow to the head or body which causes the brain to hit the inside walls of the skull. The impact causes widespread bruising and/or swelling of the brain. Concussions may result in several brain contusions over different areas of the brain.
Post-concussion symptoms may vary in severity, but all concussions are bad. If you think you or someone you know may have suffered a concussion, here are some of the more common symptoms to look out for:
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and/or sounds
- Vision problems
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Confusion and poor concentration
If you or someone you know is displaying some or any of these symptoms after a blow to the head, it is important to seek medical attention and to avoid any activities that could result in further injury.
Second Impact Syndrome
Second Impact Syndrome is especially important to discuss on Rowan’s Law Day. Second Impact Syndrome, or SIS, occurs when an individual suffers a second concussion before the symptoms from an earlier concussion have subsided. The secondary concussion causes the brain to swell extremely rapidly. When this occurs, it is often fatal or life-altering. The second blow to the head also does not need to be as strong or severe as the first. This is because the brain is still recovering and is in a vulnerable state.
This is why it is so important for concussions to be treated seriously. For those who have suffered a concussion as a result of recreational activities like sports or rock climbing, it can be tempting to rush back to your enjoyable activities. However, adequate time is required to allow the brain to heal. This also applies to those who suffer a concussion from other activities like a motor vehicle collision. When in doubt, it is best to proceed with extra caution and to avoid activities that could lead to further injury. Medical treatment and advice are recommended.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)
Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results from a blunt injury to the brain. DAI refers to the shearing or tearing, of the brain’s long connecting nerve fibers. This occurs when the brain shifts or rotates quickly.
The most common cause of DAI is motor vehicle collisions due to the acceleration followed by rapid deceleration. The severity of DAIs can vary from minor, which may result in brief unconsciousness, to major, which may result in a coma, permanent and severe injury, or death.
If you or someone you know has suffered a DAI, immediate medical treatment is required to reduce the swelling in the brain. Unfortunately, many people who sustain a DAI suffer long-term difficulties. However, rehabilitation is possible and can improve an injured person’s current symptoms as well as their long-term prognosis. Rehabilitation programs for a DAI may include:
- Speech therapy
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Recreational therapy
Brain injuries impact the lives of individuals differently. A person who has suffered a brain injury may not display symptoms that are observable to outsiders. A person that meets someone who has suffered a brain injury may not understand that that person’s personality or cognitive ability has changed as a result of the injury. This can create difficulty for the person who suffered a brain injury when attempting to receive the proper compensation for their injuries and treatment.
When advancing a legal claim where you have suffered a brain injury, it is important to have an experienced team of traumatic brain injury lawyers on your side. At McLeish Orlando, we represent and advocate for people who have suffered brain injuries on a daily basis. We understand the difficulties you may face, and we have years of experience in assisting clients with their recovery. We will work with you to ensure that you receive the best care and treatment possible and are properly compensated for the losses you have suffered. If you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury due to the fault of another party, please contact our office for a free consultation.
Overall, the most important thing is to be careful and to take reasonable precautions to prevent a brain injury. If you are engaging in recreational activities, wear the appropriate helmet. If you are traveling in an automobile, wear a seatbelt.
Sometimes things are out of our control and brain injuries can happen even with these precautions in place. If you or someone you know does suffer a brain injury, it is imperative that medical attention is sought immediately. Additionally, the brain needs to be given ample time to properly heal and recover before resuming activities.
If you would like to learn more about brain safety and prevention, feel free to take a look at some of our past articles on this topic:
- How to Prevent Traumatic Brain Injuries in Sports
- Rowan’s Law Day: Concussion Awareness and Safety
- Casterton v MacIsaac, 2020 CanLII 1088 (ONSC): a case about a blindside hit during a beer league hockey game.
- Ontario Concussion Rates are Much Higher than Previously Reported