Youth Concussion Bill Threatened...Parents Take Note!

Let's work together to take the pressure off coaches and parents and put the responsibility for diagnosing children's brain injury in the hands of medical professionals.

Fellow parents, take note. Our kids’ brain health is at stake!

A proposed Wisconsin law requiring specific guidelines for youth athletes who suffer concussion is at risk. Republican lawmakers have stripped out a requirement that club sports and school districts adhere to guidelines proposed by the medical community.

Instead, the law allows clubs and schools to make their own rules about responding to player concussions. This is a bad idea.

The NFL discovered too late that playing athletes before they are fully healed is not only dangerous it has serious long term effects. Let’s not make the same mistake that the NFL did. 

Club sports are perhaps the biggest threat to brain health. With year-round training and pressure to perform the athletes, coaches and parents may be hard pressed to pull players who are badly needed on the field.

And coaches — often well-meaning parents — are not equipped to evaluate whether a child has been injured or is ready to return to play. 

Suggesting that coaches and parents possess the ability to evaluate for brain injury is the same as suggesting they diagnose other sports-related injuries. Frankly, it doesn't work!

Recently, my niece practiced headers with her soccer coach. Only after she developed severe concussion symptoms hours later did her mom realize that the coach — being a skilled player already — allowed her daughter to take all of the headers during the drill — and never took a turn himself (as the other player pairs had). Hence, she suffered for weeks with headaches and dizziness thanks to multiple micro-concussions.       

Let’s face it, if clubs and schools were doing an effective job of self-managing the challenge of player concussion,  the medical community would not have had a reason to propose legislation. Suggesting that coaches and parents possess the ability to evaluate for brain injury is the same as suggesting they diagnose other sports-related injuries. Frankly, it doesn't work!

It’s incumbent on us as parents to rely on medical professionals who understand the subtleties of concussion symptoms to evaluate our kids following an injury.  No coach or parent is skilled enough to evaluate the readiness for returning play — and very few kids will ever admit the full extent of their symptoms such as headache and dizziness — which are largely known only to them.

We all know that the long-term effects of concussion on the brain are significant and include permanent brain damage and loss of cognitive function. Reason enough to want to protect our kids as much as possible.

Parents, coaches, teachers, students, I urge you to take action today — contact your legislators — Google Wisconsin Legislators and find out who yours are and how to reach them.  

It takes only a moment and the effects could last — well, a lifetime. 

Click here for the full story:  http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/amendment-weakens-youth-concussion-bill-994g9av-142007183.html

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Craig March 12, 2012 at 04:43 PM
JB and mau: Part of the problem as I see it with club sports. We as parents pay top dollar, and expect the coaching staff to be professionals. Some clubs are willing to push the envelope to find the next Olympian, leaving a wake of damaged kids behind. Some years ago, my kid suffered a pars defect (a fracture of part of the spine). MD put the kid in a turtle shell for 6 months, and advised the coach about repetition. When the kid could rehab and went back it was under strict rules about repetition. Two months later those rules we exceeded by 300%, and again another fracture. The second time ended sports for my kid. Repeated calls from the Dr, went unreturned by coaching staff. They knew the extent of the violation, but were willing to risk a few kids for the one who could handle it. Without naming the sport or the facility I can count several kids who have the same problem. What it boils down to is: Coaches are people, and the population is full of self serving jerks out there. Some coaches are great, some are stupid, some are just bad seeds.
mau March 12, 2012 at 06:30 PM
@JB, agreed. Difference is, and there is the potential of injury in any occupation, he was training for a lifelong skill. Personal safety equipment, safety guards on the machines, proper handling of the tools, etc. was part of the course. Plus he got a double dose because in this house safety is always #1 when using tools and equipment. I grew up participating in a lot of sports, none school team sports, and someone usually ended up hurt. But never for life. And my son did play the neighborhood sports.
Rachel Holley Sciortino March 12, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Wow, this is a great exchange! First, let me clarify - my only reason for stating the politicial affiliation of the lawmaker was to help readers who wished to take action learn which legislator to contact. I believe this issue should be apolitical. This is not about government overreach - but about who is best suited to evaluate invisible brain injury. And in my opinion it's not parents or coaches. Thank you to J.B. for the clarification and the links - I look forward to further examining this issue. Finally, the point of sharing my neice's story was mainly to illustrate that coaches MAY not be as aware as we would like about such dangers. Personally, if I were a coach I'd welcome a rule that allowed me to stay OUT of deciding whether a child should return to play -- especially since determined parents and kids can make it tough to hold your ground. Finally, in the case of my own son's concussion (obtained at church camp!) the most important piece was the doctor's advice about how long he needed to refrain from activity (ANY activity) before becoming active again -- and that could not have come from anyone but a doctor. Thanks everyone for your thoughtful opinions.
Peter Egan Jr. March 14, 2012 at 12:21 AM
This one seems like a no-brainer to me.
Steve March 20, 2012 at 04:52 AM
We should all just stay inside, the world is much too dangerous.


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