Francesco Bertolotti, Soccer - Midfielder for Modena (Italy)
NAME: Francesco Bertolotti
TEAM: Modena (Italy)
INJURY: Coma from traumatic brain injury
OTHER ATHLETES AFFECTED:
Last month, featherweight boxer Robert Benson, 24, lapsed into a coma after
a televised 10-round fight. He never regained consciousness. Doctors operated
on his brain to try to stop the bleeding and to relieve pressure in his head,
but Benson died a few days later.
Bertolotti is 33 and plays soccer for Modena, a lower-division team in
HOW IT HAPPENED:
During a game on Nov. 19, which pitted Modena against Como, Bertolotti
sparred with Massimiliano Ferrigno, Como's team captain and a former teammate.
Even though Ferrigno was ejected following the confrontation, Como went on to
win 1-0. But after the game, the fight was renewed in a locker room
confrontation. The Associated Press reported that Bertolotti was hit with an
uppercut and struck his head on the floor when he fell.
WHAT'S INVOLVED WITH TREATMENT:
The skull offers the brain significant protection from minor
bumps and scrapes. But the very things that make it such effective protection
for the brain -- like being a hard, enclosed cavity that is capable of
transferring force around its circumference -- can make it dangerous in cases
of a sudden blow, which can cause a traumatic brain injury. A direct hard blow
can jar the brain at the point of impact; it can also cause the brain to go in
the opposite direction and collide with the skull. This leads to brain injury
on the opposite side of the impact. The ability of the skull to transfer and
diffuse a blow can also lead to a more widespread injury.
If blood vessels are damaged, bleeding can happen in or around
the brain. In addition to the loss of blood supply to the brain, which can
cause irreparable damage within minutes, bleeding within the confined space of
the skull can compress the brain and cause damage and even death. This damage
is often "silent," with the patient being conscious for a few hours
while the bleeding continues to build up pressure in the brain. The fact that
Bertolotti lapsed into a coma means that he suffered a severe brain injury.
The first-line of treatment for severe traumatic brain injury
is surgery, during which doctors try to control the bleeding and ease the
pressure that can build up as brain tissue is damaged. The surgeon will try to
preserve as much of the regular circulation through the brain as possible.
Doctors operated on Bertolotti on Monday. He remained in a coma and was in
serious but stable condition afterward.