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Teen’s near-fatal SIS occurred after clear CT scan

Two head injuries can be deadly, especially for young Texas athletes who are subject to practice and game head trauma regularly. Doctors have a name for the condition that causes debilitating conditions, brain trauma and sometimes death following multiple head blows: Second Impact Syndrome.

The condition occurs when a single head blow is followed too closely by another similar injury. The previously-injured brain reacts because it was not given sufficient recovery time. Vessels swell and bleed, creating pressure that causes comas, memory loss, speech and movement difficulties and sometimes death.

Doctors have learned that teenagers whose brains have not finished growing appear to be the most susceptible to SIS. Contact sports played in high school and college make teen athletes especially vulnerable.

Six years after collapsing at a football game, a Midwestern SIS victim still forgets information only hours old and requires help to walk. The young man, now 23, was 17 when he took a mild hit to the shoulder during a football game and fell to the ground in seizures. The teen’s condition followed a game concussion days before.

Details of the football player’s accident, injuries and treatment were recently published in the Journal of Neurosurgery. Authors noted the player had no detectable trauma after the first injury. Doctors traditionally look for blood clots as evidence of injury. A CT scan revealed nothing.

The second injury was a hit to the shoulder followed by dizziness, collapse, seizures and more than 90 days of hospitalization. Brain swelling and bleeding caused the player’s heart to stop. He developed pneumonia, sepsis, kidney failure and hypertension.

Government figures say an average of 1.7 million Americans suffers severe brain injuries annually. Adults, including teachers, coaches and school administrators, that fail to respond to the seriousness of students’ head injuries place children at risk. Negligent parties may be named in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits for the harm they cause.

Source:, “High school footballers warned of ‘death by second knock’ as player, 17, is left in coma after ‘harmless clash’,” Emma Reynolds, Jan. 2, 2013

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