The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted a new model policy for youth sport concussions that puts kids brain health ahead of their sporting careers. This new policy is the latest in a wave of efforts to let children play sports more safely.
Sports-related brain injuries have been in the news a lot lately. Last year, several professional athletes sued their employers because of career-ending injuries. Now the AMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have each taken up the call to protect our nation’s student athletes.
In June, the AMA adopted a new policy that would keep any kid demonstrating concussion symptoms from practicing or playing sports until cleared by a doctor. While any hit to the head can cause brain injury, the result of a second concussion can be catastrophic. Thirty-nine percent of all repeat brain injuries cause permanent neurologic disability.
Because of the high risk of permanent injury, coaches, athletes and parents are urged not to have a child play if there is even a chance of a concussion. As AMA board member, Dr. Jack Resneck, Jr., told Reuters:
“It is essential that athletes know how crucial it is to notify their coach, trainer, physician or parent if they’ve sustained any type of head injury because even mild cases of traumatic brain injury may have serious and prolonged consequences.”
That’s where the CDC comes in. The institute has recently released an iPhone app called Heads Up (coming soon to Google Play), which provide on-the-field assistance to parents and coaches trying to determine if a child may have a concussion. The app also includes a 3D “helmet fit” feature that helps parents figure out when they may need to replace their student-athlete’s helmet.
Every year, there are 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries in the United States alone. In fact, sports are second only to motor vehicle accidents as the main cause of traumatic brain injury in youth and young adults ages 15-24.
Unfortunately, a full 15 percent of concussion sufferers get back in the game too soon. Among football players, 16 percent are back on the field the very next day.
That is why it is so important for coaches to be on the look out and treat concussions as the serious injuries they really are. To help, the CDC has created online training courses for coaches that teach them to spot concussions and know what to do when they happen.
Traumatic brain injury has plagued student athletes over the last decade, putting their health at odds with their loyalty to the team. Between the CDC training materials and the AMA’s policy, coaches should be well prepared to address sport concussions by the time they hit the practice fields this summer.
David Christensen is a brain injury attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He helps brain injury victims get their medical expenses covered by their insurance companies. If you or someone you know has suffered a concussion and needs help, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.