After suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during the fourth quarter of a playoff game in Arizona, Hopi High School senior Charles Youvella died at a hospital, according to the Arizona Interscholastic Association. Youvella scored the only touchdown during Hopi’s first-round playoff game, finishing the game as a 60-6 loss for the school.
Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 1.4 million Americans receive a TBI. “Struck by/against” events, such as football injuries, make up about 16.5 percent of all TBIs.
A community memorial was held Wednesday evening, Nov. 13, at the Hopi High School auditorium. Youvella is said to have died with his family by his side, including his father Wallace Youvella Jr., the high school’s athletic director.
“We’ll all have to move forward and at least support one another and support our young children,” Hopi Chairman Le Roy Shingoitewa said.
Youvella’s untimely death stands as yet another example of the seriousness of head injuries at all levels of football.
Two weeks prior, the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council called for a national system to be put in place to better track sports-related concussion and help answer questions about the long-term effects of youth concussions.
Their report also released statistics detailing how 250,000 people from the age of 19 and younger were treated in emergency rooms for concussions and various other sport- or recreation-related brain injuries in 2009. That was a sharp increase from 150,000 in 2001.
The damage to one’s brain that is incurred by a TBI can affect the way a person thinks, acts, feels and moves his or her body, the Brain Injury Association of America confirms. It can even go as far as to affect how one’s body functions internally, such as regulating body temperature, blood pressure, bowels and bladder control. These changes can range from temporary to permanent, dependent on the individual and severity of the TBI.
A TBI also may result in emotional and developmental issues including memory loss, mood swings, anger and depression. People with TBI are at a higher risk for suicide.
An account will be established to help organize contributions for the Youvella family, the Arizona Interscholastic Association said.