Skip to Main Content

Actors Are Getting Brain Injuries Just Like Football Players, Study Says

Traumatic brain injuries have been in the headlines during the past few years because of the growing evidence linking concussions to professional football players and other athletes. Notably, the National Football League agreed to a 2017 settlement with more than 20,000 current and former players, which has provided nearly $420 million in compensation to date for concussion-related claims. And even below the high-stakes professional level, parents of high school and college athletes have expressed growing concern over the impact of contact sports on their children.

Like Athletes, Theater Personnel Reluctant to Report Concussions, Seek Medical Attention

You might think your child would be safer following a less-violent extracurricular interest–such as theater. Yet a recent study published by researchers at Ohio University suggests that actors and theatrical production staffers are also at significant risk for occupational brain injuries. Indeed, according to Dr. Jeffrey A. Russell and Brooke M. Daniell, the study’s principal authors, approximately two-thirds of the individuals they surveyed reported “sustaining at least one theater-related head impact” during their careers.

The survey included 258 adults who work in high school and university theater departments, as well as members of professional organizations “representing workers in the production and technical aspects of theater.” The survey itself asked if participants could recall “any instance in your life in which you have hit your head,” whether such instance was “related to theater,” whether they reported their injury to someone, and whether they sought medical attention.

Most of the participants acknowledged suffering a head injury of some sort during their lifetime. More specifically, 140 of 209 respondents–67 percent–said that at least one such injury was sustained “during theater activity.” Out of these 140 respondents, 70 percent said they “experienced concussion-like symptoms” as a result of their head injury, but “continued participating in theater activities.” And out of that group, 45 percent said they did not report their injury to anyone.

Only 35 of the 140 head-injury victims even bothered to seek medical attention. Seventy-one percent of this select group were ultimately diagnosed with a concussion. Finally, only 28 percent of the diagnosed subgroup said they were cleared to resume theater activities without any medical restrictions.

Perhaps more alarming is the fact that a majority of respondents did not just suffer a theater-related head injury–they suffered multiple injuries. The study’s authors noted that 77 percent of survey respondents said they sustained at least three theater-related concussions during their careers, and 39 percent reported at least five such “head impacts.”

Do You Need Legal Advice After Suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Unfortunately, much as we have seen before with football players and other athletes, theater actors and production personnel do not think concussions are that big a deal. Russell and Daniell concluded that based on their findings, theater personnel “appear hesitant to report possible concussions and generally do not access definitive, evidence-based healthcare for head injuries.”

The truth is that a concussion is always something you should take seriously, regardless of where or how it occurs. And if you have sustained a traumatic brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, you should speak with a qualified Miami personal injury attorney. Call the offices of Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, at (305)-371-2692 or visit us online, if you need to speak with an experienced head injury lawyer today.