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Neurologist Shares Insight On Traumatic Brain Injuries In Wake Of Elijah Gorham's Death

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The medical examiner revealed the cause of death for the beloved high school football player, Elijah Gorham.

In an email to WJZ on Tuesday, the office revealed that the 17-year-old's cause of death was cardiac arrest, multi-system organ failure, accidental trauma, and a traumatic brain injury.

"These cases are very unfortunate and they remind us of the severity of this injury," said Dr. Kevin Crutchfield, a neurologist who helped to write Maryland's concussion protocol laws.

Dr. Crutchfield does not know the specifics of Gorham's case but described what happens in the body when an athlete gets a traumatic brain injury.

"If the body stops suddenly, the brain can still shift around inside the skull and bang up against the inside of the skull. And it's the transfer of that force into the tissue of the brain that has energy that leads to chemical changes and that is a traumatic brain injury. It can either cause bruising, bleeding," said Dr. Crutchfield.

Dr. Crutchfield said traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are more severe than concussions. He describes concussions as a self-resolving process, whereas TBI improves, but does not fully resolve.

Gorham was a senior at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School. He was injured during a game back in September and died a few weeks later.

In a statement to WJZ, Baltimore City Schools said:

During interscholastic football games, such as this one, City Schools arranges for a medic to be on the scene. The medic administered care while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. Additionally, all coaches are trained in student care and injury prevention. The medic ensures that the district Athletic Department receives information regarding any injury that requires medical attention.

Gorham's mother, Shantres Shaw told WJZ the team was like family.

"It was a brotherhood to him, he loved his team members his coaches, his family and he was just amazing," said Shaw.

Even at a teenager, Elijah's positive impact was unmistakable. His coach called him a silent leader.

"Just a wonderful young man so caring so giving so genuine, can't say enough positive things about him," sid Patrick Nixon, head football coach and athletic director at Mervo.

Coach Nixon said there will be a vigil on the football field Thursday at 7 p.m. in Elijah's honor.

A GoFundMe has been organized to establish a scholarship in Gorham's memory. To donate or learn more, click here.

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