Recently, a referee was killed after he was punched in the face by a soccer player. His death turned into a conversation starter highlighting just how dangerous hits to the head can be and the devastating nature of brain injuries.
In this case, the referee was punched once in the face at close range by a 17-year-old soccer player. Immediately after being hit he seemed to be fine, but then asked for help as he was feeling dizzy. When he started vomiting blood an ambulance was called. Once at the hospital, he slipped into a coma. He died one week later.
In looking at what happened, his brain had swelled from the hit. Dr. Robert Glatter, who is an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that any type of blunt force trauma to the head can result in a traumatic brain injury.
Glatter explained that what typically happens is that when the head is hit, it causes intracranial pressure. If this pressure rises too high, the blood vessels may end up having a hard time accommodating, which will result in less blood flow to the brain. This in turn results in the brain not getting enough oxygen, which can lead to swelling.
Many times when this happens, if the person does survive, he or she could end up in a vegetative state. In other cases, the person can continue to have problems, such as seizures and cognitive issues, years after the initial brain injury.
Dr. Anders Cohen, who is the chief of neurosurgery and spine surgery at The Brooklyn Hospital Center, said in addition to taking a hard hit to the head, many end up suffering from brain injuries from falling down and hitting their head again after the initial hit. This second hit only worsens their bruising and swelling.
In general, it is important to note that while this recent case is the result of a punch to the face, traumatic brain injuries are also caused by car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents and really any other type of accident where the head takes a hard hit. Many of these cases involve someone else’s negligence too, which means it may be possible to hold that person accountable through civil action.
Source: CBS News, “Soccer referee’s death shows how dangerous head blows can be,” Ryan Jaslow, May 6, 2013