Editorial Urges Legislation to Protect Young Athletes From Brain Injuries

Awareness continues to grow about the risks faced by young athletes after suffering a sports related brain injury. That increased awareness is cited as a partial explanation for the significant increases being reported in emergency room visits for youth head injuries. Many believe that coaches, parents, athletic directors, and school administrators are taking fewer chances with their young athletes and are having a doctor take a look at them whenever there are concerns that they may have suffered a brain injury. Increased understanding about these risks is a good development that will undoubtedly save many athletes from the many complications that can result when injuries go unnoticed or are ignored.

However, there are still many involved in youth sports who fail to appreciate the seriousness of the risks and fail to take reasonable steps to keep players safe. As a result, lawmakers across the country continue to offer legislative solutions that would make it mandatory for those involved to protect young players from possible youth sports head injuries. For example, the Badger Herald editorialized this weekend in support of proposed legislation in the state on the topic. The bill would require coaches to take a player out of a game or practice who is between the ages of 11 and 19 if they believe that they may have suffered a traumatic head injury. The bill would go further and prevent the player from practicing or going into a game until they receive written permission from a health care provider. The root of the legislation is an effort to prevent players from playing after they have experienced a concussion. Legislators have no doubt followed the growing medical evidence which have associated successive concussions with large medical risks.

Contrary to the perception of some, concussions must be taken seriously, because their long-term effects can be significant and include depression, chronic headaches, and memory loss. These injuries are particularly harmful if they involve repeat head trauma. They have a cumulative effect on the brain with conditions worsening over time. Startlingly, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that diagnosed concussions likely only represent roughly 15% of all the actual concussions suffered by young athletes. That means many experience a brain injury and then go right back out onto the field or the rink to face additional physical contact. Often, it is only when a player has experienced several concussions suffering permanent damage that proper treatment is provided. By then it is usually too late.

Our Illinois sports injury lawyers are well versed in the long-term consequences of untreated or mistreated concussions. From mild dizziness to death and everything in between, concussions can affect the lives of those who suffer from them in many ways. The risks increase significantly when not properly handled, and so all efforts to account for those risks and prevent long-term injury must be supported. Also, all those who have suffered one of these injuries that should have been prevented should take the time to visit with a legal professional to determine the justice system provides an avenue by which the victim can receive some compensation for the losses they suffered.

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