Baseball Coach Sustains Traumatic Brain Injury

Much of the recent news surrounding traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and sports has focused on the NFL. Yet researchers emphasize that many different contact sports can leave players and coaches susceptible to severe head trauma, and a recent accident in Tehachapi, California has left a baseball coach serious injured.


According to a recent article in Yahoo Sports, Tehachapi High School baseball coach Chris Olofson “suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain after being hit in the head by a line drive while coaching.”  Will the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) change its tune about coaching and safety requirements?

Brain injuries can result from many different accidents, but contact sports can be particularly dangerous.  If you have sustained a TBI while playing or coaching sports, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation.  ASan Diego brain injury lawyer at the Walton Law Firm can discuss your case with you today.

History of Baseball Coaching and Traumatic Brain Injury

Olofson isn’t the first baseball coach to sustain a severe head trauma while coaching a game.  Back in 2007, Mike Coolbaugh, a 35-year-old minor league coach for the Tulsa Drillers, suffered an injury similar to Olofson’s and died.  As a result of Coolbaugh’s death, the MLB adopted a new rule that “required base coaches to wear protective helmets.”

However, the NFHS hasn’t made the same decision.  After Coolbaugh died from a TBI sustained while coaching, the NFHS recently emphasized that it “has not mandated that adult coaches shall wear protective head gear while occupying a coach’s box.”  Rather, the NFHS explained, “it is the prerogative of the respective coach to wear such protective equipment.”

While certain states require coaches to wear protective helmets when they’re on the baselines, California isn’t one of those states.  And Elliott Hopkins, the NFHS Baseball Rules Editor, indicated back in 2008 that he didn’t believe helmets were necessary for high school coaches.  “We talked about it and gathered feedback,” he said, and ultimately determined that “coaches are far enough back” so as not to be in danger of sustaining a brain injury on the field.  As a result, Elliott indicated that, “if a coach thinks it is necessary, then they are welcome to wear a helmet.”

However, Olofson’s injury makes clear that there’s a danger of brain injury while coaching high school baseball, and requiring coaches to wear helmets could prevent serious head trauma.  The NFHS has indicated that it continues to conduct research “to determine if protective head gear should be required and, if so, which type (hard liner, flapless, one-flap, dual flap) would be most effective.”

Severity of Baseball Head Trauma

Unlike the fatal brain injury sustained by Coolbaugh back in 2007, Olofson appears to be recovering from his head trauma.  After being hit by the line drive, he was rushed to a nearby medical center, where he was listed as being in critical condition.  However, a day after the accident, Olofson “remained stable.”  Indeed, he wanted to know whether his team had won the game.

But it’s important to remember that Olofson was lucky.  Many brain injury victims don’t recover fully, and for some people, like Coolbaugh, their injuries prove fatal.  If you or a loved one has sustained a traumatic brain injury, don’t hesitate to contact an experiencedCalifornia brain injury attorney to learn more about filing a claim for financial compensation.

See Related Blog Posts:

New Study Links Traumatic Brain Injury to Premature Death

California Workers’ Comp Panel Rejects Brain Injury Claim

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