Research Reports - Study Shows Second Impact Syndrome Occurrences Increasing, New York Passes Concussion Management and Awareness Act

Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) has moved from a controversial issue to a public health debate. Once considered rare and elusive, more and more sports athletes are suffering from the condition, which has resulted in hundreds of deaths in the past three decades. A study published in the June edition of the Journal of Pediatrics draws attention to the potential dangers of interscholastic sports and SIS outcomes.

SIS is a condition that occurs when a person suffers from an initial head injury, such as a concussion, and then suffers a second head injury before the symptoms of the first injury resolve. The precipitating traumatic brain injury (TBI) may cause holes within the skull, allowing the herniated portions of the brain to squeeze through.

Results of the Study

The study, conducted by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation's Dr. Barry Maron and a team of researchers, looked at 1,827 cases of young athlete fatalities listed in the National Registry of Sudden Death in Athletes. Reviewing records from 1980 to 2009, the team discovered that 261 football players died from trauma-related injuries. These athlete deaths, which represent 14 percent of all the fatal injuries, followed head and neck blows which were subsequent to concussions sustained weeks prior.

These results are consistent with older findings from the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research located at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In the NCCSIR study, 35 probable cases of SIS death were identified from 1980 to 1993 among athletes.

Just like other traumatic brain injuries, symptoms of SIS may occur immediately or manifest over days or weeks. Common symptoms include loss of eye movement, confusion, nausea, headache, and loss of consciousness. Dilated pupils and breathing problems are also common. SIS can also cause permanent damage. According to some Albany traumatic brain injury attorneys, severe SIS cases result in paralysis, coma, and even death.

New York Passes Concussion Management and Awareness Act

Increased awareness of SIS has prompted twenty-one sister states including New York, to enact laws mandating certain protections for student athletes. Under New York's Concussion Management and Awareness Act, signed into law September 19, 2011, education and health commissioners must adopt and implement rules and regulations for the treatment and monitoring of students with mild TBIs. The law requires that parents be given information regarding the risks of mild TBI for students participating in interscholastic sports.

Hopefully public awareness and regulations such as the Awareness Act will help prevent and reduce SIS occurrences and other traumatic brain injuries.

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