New York lawmakers recently approved new rules that require school coaches to bench student athletes who show signs of a concussion – dizziness or headaches that may indicate a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). Students can play again only after they are symptom-free for 24 hours and cleared in writing by a doctor. The new law takes effect July 1, 2012, and also requires schools to post information about concussions on their website.
The issue of concussions continues to get attention following a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said the number of children treated in an emergency room for TBI, including concussions, has increased 60 percent in the past 10 years.
Emergency rooms in the United States saw 248,418 children with traumatic brain injuries in 2009 compared with 153,375 in 2001. Most of the injuries were associated with physical activities such football, soccer, basketball, playground accidents and bicycling. The report was published in the Oct. 7 issue of CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.”
According to the report, children and adolescents:
- require more time to recover from a head injury than adults
- are at greater risk for serious complications such as brain damage
The bottom line is that the consequences of a concussion can be serious or even fatal. The CDC study has prompted legislators to push for national protocols on dealing with TBIs. Those are expected to be available by the fall of 2014.
New York’s new concussion law directs the state Education Department to adopt the rules for school-sponsored or related activities and calls for each school district to establish a group responsible for staff training and student and parent education.
For parents, being aware of signs of concussion is vital for getting treatment for your child as soon as possible after the blow occurs. Not every child’s concussion presents itself in the same manner. Sometimes, the concussion is so slight that it is overlooked altogether, leaving that child at a heightened risk for a second, more dangerous blow to the head.
Symptoms of a concussion range from mild to severe and can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months. If you notice any symptoms of a concussion, contact your doctor.
SIGNS OF CONCUSSION
- Headaches that get worse over time
- Behavioral changes, including irritability or fussiness
- Degradation of physical coordination
- Confusion and disorientation
- Slurred speech
- Trouble with vision and changes in pupil appearance (dilation)
- Changes in breathing pattern
- Lasting or recurring dizziness
- Blood or fluid discharge from the nose or ears
- Large bumps or bruises on the head or around the forehead
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has information on concussion management on its website. See “Concussion Management Information” links at http://www.nysphsaa.org/safety/
To read a story summarizing New York state’s concussion law, visit online “New York enacts new concussion law.” Read story
CNY Central: “New law would sideline students after a concussion.” cnycentral.com
For additional information on concussions, check out: Henry Ford Hospital: “Concussion Basics.” Read more