Tuesday the NCAA agreed to set up a $70-million fund for current and former college athletes to be tested for brain trauma as part of a settlement in a concussion lawsuit. Athletes who have competed in any contact sports in any division in the past 50 years may qualify for physical examinations, neurological measurements, and neurocognitive assessments. An additional $5 million will be put toward concussion research and education. What it won't include is money for treatment for athletes who are found to have brain damage.This settlement doesn't prevent athletes from suing the NCAA or their university for personal injury damages.
It also fails to address prevention of concussions and brain damage. As part of the settlement the NCAA will be introducing return-to-play guidelines which they haven't had including:
- Baseline concussion testing of NCAA student-athletes.
- Student-athletes with a diagnosed concussion will not be allowed to return to play or practice on the same day, and must be cleared by a physician.
- Medical personnel with training in the diagnosis, treatment and management of concussions must be present for all games and available during all practices.
- Establish a process for schools to report diagnosed concussions and their resolution.
Typically when people think of concussions and concussion lawsuits they think of American football, however, concussions can be sustained in any contact, and if you're really graceful non-contact, sport. In fact, women's soccer is second only to football in the number of reported concussions. It is estimated that between 4 to 20 percent of all soccer injuries are head injuries. While heading a ball may seem like the likely culprit for concussions it is often a knee or elbow to the head that causes concussions in soccer.
In late 2013 a former Samford University soccer player filed a lawsuit against the NCAA alleging that the NCAA was aware of, but failed to communicate to student-athletes, the health and safety risks associated with repeated concussions as well as the increased susceptibility to suffer a concussion after suffering from an initial concussion.The player, Mary Shelton Wells, suffered a brain injury while playing soccer and was forced to end her athletic career after being declared medically ineligible.