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Applauding New State Bill Protecting High School Athletes

Recent attention directed at sports related brain injuries has led many local, state, and federal policymakers to take action in response. Our Chicago brain injury lawyers recognize that any time a systematic problem is discovered which affects thousands of residents-particularly children-policymakers look closely to see if there is anything that can be done legislatively to address the issue. When it comes to these traumatic brain injuries, lawmakers have set their sights on new rules which are meant to help those involved identify head injuries and take action to prevent serious aggravating complications.

Recently the Denver Post published an editorial applauding new legislative effort in that state to protect high school athletes. The legislation, which became law this month after being signed by the governor, is aimed at helping coaches recognize when a player has suffered a concussion and taking step to ensure that victim is not further injured.

The law includes a variety of different components to meet the goal of keeping players safe. For example, it requires coaches of all high school sports in the state to take concussion recognition training. As the name implies, the training is conducted by professionals who will explain the common warning signs of concussions to these coaches so that they are better equipped to step in if they suspect a player has suffered a head injury. This identification is crucial, because many of the youngsters involved in athletics do not fully appreciate the consequences of a concussion. The players themselves may not fully know when the need to rest or they may try to hide their symptoms in an effort to stay in a game that they shouldn’t.

In addition to the recognition training, the law also requires that a player who has suffered a concussion receive a written medical clearance before being allowed to return to their sport. Rest is necessary after a concussion to allow the brain time to heal. The only way to ensure that a player has the adequate amount of rest is via a proper medical analysis. Coaches should never be making these vital decisions on their own, as they are not trained to recognize when a player is actually ready to go back onto the field or court.

Our Illinois injury lawyers appreciate that there is a tough balancing act that must be maintained with it comes to legislation aimed at reducing brain injuries. On one hand, there are inherent risks in all of life’s activities that cannot simply be legislated away. For example, if one never gets in the car, then all risks of being involved in a car accident go away. But obviously the potential benefits of cars outweigh the risks. Similarly, never playing youth sports also eliminates the risk. However, so many lives are enriched by these activities. The best approach then, as embodied in this legislation, is to demand that involved parties take reasonable actions to keep players as safe as possible without drastically intruding on the game. Whereas it is logical for legislature to pass seat belt laws to protect car riders, it is similarly logical to force coaches to ensure their players are fully healed before putting them back in the game.

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