A new law in New York will require that both private and public high school sports coaches bench players that show symptoms of a traumatic brain injuries. This law, that will go into effect next year, requires that such athletes be free of symptoms for 24 hours and obtain a doctor’s note before being allowed to return to practice or competitive play.
But some experts are not convinced that the requirement is enough to stop incidents of brain injury in the nation’s high school athletes. One coach remarked that some students are not vocal about their symptoms and may ignore dizziness and loss of concentration during pivotal games. Some legislators believe that athletes must receive proper training to recognize the warning signs of a traumatic brain injury and not be afraid to speak up if they notice concussion symptoms.
Thus the new law also includes measures on required instruction for high school coaches, physical education teachers, school nurses and athletic training staff every two years. Beginning in July next year, legislation will also direct school officials in how to handle mild traumatic brain injury.
While most concussions are temporary and mild — with accompanying symptoms like loss of balance, concentration, memory, headaches and lack of judgment — experts worry that allowing an athlete to play too soon after suffering a concussion can increase the risk of subsequent, much more serious brain injury.
Further studies into sports related concussions will include a group of athletes that are asked to wear helmets equipped with sensors that will record impact data. Scientists will then study this impact data with brain scans to monitor new nerve cell damage in their brains. The research group hopes to establish a link between long-term minor brain injuries to serious, chronic conditions.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “NY to require benching students with concussions,” Associated Press, Sept. 30, 2011