HOMER, N.Y. – Family, friends and classmates of 16-year-old Ridge Barden are reeling after the standout varsity athlete collapsed on the football field Friday evening, Oct. 14, and died shortly after being rushed to the hospital. An autopsy later revealed the cause of death as bleeding in the brain, the result of severe head trauma suffered during the game. According to a report by RivalsHigh, the high school junior collapsed on the field after a hard hit. Although he initially sat up after being administered to by trainers, he fell back down when he tried to stand up and was carried from the field unconscious, Rivals High reports.
Unfortunately, this tragic story is among many recent reports of serious injuries and deaths resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI). Recent medical studies are revealing a connection between even mild TBIs, such as concussions, and lingering health effects. In addition to suffering physical trauma and visible symptoms, it appears the victims of TBI may suffer lasting emotional and cognitive effects, including memory loss, trouble concentrating, mood swings and depression.
Additionally, studies are revealing the cumulative effects of repeated concussions may lead to the development of serious cognitive disorders and dementia.
As a result, many states are passing laws strengthening the rules governing student athletes. For example, in August, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed a bill into law that aims to reduce the number of concussions by providing better information and education about the prevention and treatment of concussions, and regulations to ensure students who suffer a concussion do not return to play prematurely.
However, with the nature of contact sports like football, sometimes all the precautions in the world fall short. Barden’s mother, Jacqueline, told WSYR-TV in Syracuse, N.Y., that her son loved playing football since his earliest days in the Pee Wee leagues. She even tried to offer comfort to the players who were involved in the hit that eventually caused his death.
“It was just an accident,” she told WSYR.
John Rathbun, who is the Executive Director of Section III Athletics, which mandates that students wait seven days before returning to play after a head injury, told WSYR that the coaches and players in the area are educated about concussion and TBI, but that there was just no way to prepare for or predict what happened to Ridge.