WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – A medical expert in Wilmington wants to remind everyone that the recent death of an 11-year-old boy from a baseball injury is a tragic reminder to take all brain injuries seriously.
Alex Newsome died Friday hours after he was hit by a line drive during baseball practice at Roland-Grise Middle School in Wilmington. Witnesses say immediately after he was hit in the back of the head by the baseball, Newsome stood up, and then fell back to the ground where he never awoke.
One medical expert says this tragic story will actually help shed more light on the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries.
Karen Lambert works for Bodies in Balance Physical Therapy, a clinic that specializes in brain injuries with athletes of all ages. Their primary focus is on monitoring deficits in balance and motor functions after a brain injury.
Lambert says they mostly see concussions, which heal over time; however, more serious brain injuries, like Newsome's, are much different to predict. He could not recover from the blow to his head. Lambert says any impact to a child's head, no matter how hard, needs to be monitored.
"The first 24 hours after any bump to the head, it's really important to monitor that individual and know that the answers that they're giving you when they're telling you that they're feeling fine, we don't always know that," Lambert said. "They've just bumped their head so that information that you're getting from them may not be reliable. It's extremely important for the family, friends, and who ever are around are monitoring them."
There have been questions about whether young pitchers should wear helmets. Interestingly, Lambert said she's not sure if that's the right solution, because some kids have a false sense of security when they wear a helmet.
"I don't know whether all players (wearing helmets) would be the right answer because there gets to be some concern then that people take that helmet too seriously and think it can save their life for them," Lambert explained. "Time will tell what the best answer is going to be. For any parent whose child has a brain injury though, it's always better to err on the side caution," she continued.
At this point there is no evidence that proves a helmet would have saved Newsome's life.
Following this incident, the New Hanover County School System is reviewing its policy on safety regulations for student athletes and team managers. School administrators said they plan to investigate to see how they can keep a similar tragedy from happening again.
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