The days of youth coaches sending student athletes right back onto the court after suffering a hard hit to the head may soon be over. Pennsylvania recently signed a new law into effect that should hopefully lower the chance of young athletes suffering serious brain injury while playing high school sports. The law requires that coaches immediately bench any athlete suspected of having a concussion. It further prohibits the athlete from returning to play until a physician has cleared them.
Coaches who refuse to follow this rule will be penalized. The new law is a response to the increasing incident of youth brain injury incidents related to sports. A national study indicates that the rate of student athlete concussions, which resulted in emergency room visits, doubled from 1997 to 2007. Unfortunately, getting both coaches and students to adhere to this safety rule may take some time.
One Pennsylvania high school student suffered a hard hit to her head on the basketball court at the age of 12, but both she and her coach figured she could just keep soldiering on. She began suffering headaches and had trouble with her memory and mood swings, which eventually led to a diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome. The student said she didn't want to stop playing the sport that had become so important to her.
Now, however, increased public awareness along with this new Pennsylvania law will put both students and coaches on alert to just how important it is to stay out of any competition until a physician clears an injured player. Brain injury can lead to many long-term complications. Unfortunately, for some, they will never be the same after suffering such an injury. At least this new law may help them pursue financial compensation in cases where coaches ignore the guidelines and send them back on the court only to exacerbate an existing brain injury.
Source: Philly.com, "New Pa. safeguards against youth concussions kick in today," Kathy Boccella, July 3, 2012