Editorials

Concussion Bill of Rights #11: Pre-Participation Evaluations For All Youth Athletes

Because many athletes are unaware that they have suffered concussions in the past, and because the taking of a detailed concussion history may pre-identify athletes who require additional management and the opportunity for physicians to educate athletes about the significance of concussion injuries, the eleventh right of parents under the Parent's Concussion Bill of Rights is the right to expect that their child's sports progam will have athletes undergo a pre-participation evaluation (PPE) before each season which includes the taking of a detailed concussion history.

Game Officials Should Have Power To Order Sideline Evaluation of Concussion

Game officials are often in the best position to detect the subtle signs of concussions in athletes during a game but are not often given the power to order a sideline evaluation and assessment of concussion and few have received concussion education.

Concussion Bill of Rights #9: Coaches and Officials with Safety Training/Certification

The ninth right of parents under the Parent's Concussion Bill of Rights is the right to expect that their child's coach and the officials working games have been trained in basic safety and emergency procedures. Laws should be enacted in every state modeled on "Will's Bill," the 2007 Texas law named after Will Benson, the 17-year old Texas football player who died after collapsing during a game, requiring that every high school coach and official receive such training.

Concussion Bill of Rights #8: Paramedics Present At All Football Games

Delay in treatment of a brain injury suffered by a player in a football game can be critical. The eighth right of parents under the Parent's Concussion Bill of Rights is therefore the right to expect that an ambulance and paramedics are present at all high school football games, and, if they are not, procedures are in place on how to activate the school's emergency medical plan by calling 911.

Concussion Bill of Rights #7: A Safe Helmet for Every Child

Most football helmets currently in use do little if anything to protect brains from the forces that cause concussions, a fact that most parents and athletes don't know. An estimated half of all football helmets in use at the high school level have either been improperly reconditioned, have foam padding that has degraded over time, or fit poorly. Only about one in five helmets is new. Technological advances in helmet design, while they are not going to make concussions in football a thing of the past, hold out at least the promise of being able to significantly reduce the number of concussions. The seventh right of parents under the Parent's Concussion Bill of Rights is the right to know that the helmet their child is using is safe.

Concussion Bill of Rights #6: Information to Parents on Follow-Up Care and Written Consent Before Return to Play

Too often, parents are in the dark about the important role they play in their child's recovery from concussion and the all-important decision on when it is safe for their child to return to the playing field. The sixth right of parents under the Parent's Concussion Bill of Rights is therefore the right to receive written notice of injuries suffered by their child and to provide written consent before their child is allowed to return to play.

Concussion Bill of Rights #5: Neuropsychological Testing For Contact and Collision Sports

Parents should have the right to expect, if their child is playing contact or collision sports, that he or she undergo pre-season baseline and post-injury neuropsychological testing as the current consensus statement on concussions recommends for athletes in such sport, regardless of age or competitive level.

Athletic Trainers: Every High School Should Have One

MomsTEAM has been advocating for years that every U.S. high school should have an athletic trainer on staff, given their key role in assessing and treating sports injuries, including concussions, and in making return to play decisions. While only 60-65% of schools have an AT, recent statistics suggest that fully 85-90% of high school athletes are now working with ATs on a daily basis.

Concussion Bill of Rights #3: Adoption and Enforcement of Conservative Evaluation & Return-to-Play Guidelines

The sad fact, and what makes it sometimes hard for parents to truly believe that programs are taking concussions seriously, is that many of the sports programs in which their children participate do not follow any set of return-to-play guidelines, and if they do follow guidelines, they are too liberal in terms of same-day return-to-play (RTP). Thus, the third point in the Concussion Bill of Rights for parents is that the athletic director or administrator, coach, athletic trainer and team doctor have, at the very least, agreed upon and adopted a philosophy for grading and managing concussions before the start of the season which prohibits players who experience concussion signs or symptoms from returning to the same game or practice, and use it consistently during the season, regardless of the athlete or circumstances surrounding the injury.

Coaches: Improve Concussion Safety By Creating Safe Environment For Athlete Self-Reporting

Because coaches have the strongest influence on a student-athlete's decision to report a concussion, more concussion education of coaches, including the need to report concussions, however, minor, and the creation of a safe reporting environment are critical, experts say, to combating chronic underreporting of concussion.

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