An Iowa high school football player was awarded $990,000 in damages and medical fees this week after his school was negligent in how it handled a potential head injury.
During the 2012 season, Bedford High freshman Kacey Strough complained to his coach that his teammates wouldn’t stop throwing balls at his head. Though the coach told him he’d take care of it, nothing was apparently done, and Strough wasn’t removed from play for evaluation. Due to a condition Strough had called cavernous malformation (wherein blood vessels in the brain form abnormally and normal blood flow is disrupted), the incident caused more damage than it might have otherwise.
A few days later, when Strough began showing signs of brain trauma, he was taken to the hospital, where a blood clot near his brainstem was discovered and operated on. Now, more than two years later at the age of 18, he still uses a wheelchair and has permanent brain damage.
The court case accused the school administration of failing to inform coaches of Strough’s condition and consequent increased risk of head injury and of failing to respond to the bullying. It also said the school didn’t comply with the state’s concussion laws, which mandate that coaches and referees must remove athletes from play if a head injury is suspected and cannot allow them to return to the field until being cleared by a medical professional.
The nearly million dollars Strough’s family was given marks the largest payout yet in a high school head injury case and sends a strong message to other high schools that blows to the head absolutely must be taken seriously. Hopefully this ruling will make those responsible for student-athletes pay closer attention to the issue because incidents like this, wherein a possible injury is brushed off or overlooked, cannot continue in our schools. There’s too much at stake.
*Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.