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Conservative Management of Youth Concussions, More Education Needed, de Lench Says

Remarks To Concussion Conference

Most sports helmets (lacrosse, football, skiing, biking ) 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. Fortunately, 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 and possibly detect the number of concussions.

Parents need to know about these new helmets. They need to know that their child's football program thinks enough about their safety that it will find the money to buy them; that if it can't find the money, they will have the option of buying them on their own at the least possible cost or getting together with other parents to raise the money necessary to buy every player a safe helmet.

They also need to know about the importance of proper mouth guards, where to buy them how to judge the correct fit.

An ambulance and paramedics should be present at all contact high velocity sports, and, if they are not, procedures need to be in place on how to contact 911. For a reason, we need look no further than the tragic story of Will Benson, a 17-year old football player from Austin, Texas, who paramedics were unable to reach for nearly 30 minutes because the person who called 911 didn't tell the dispatcher exactly where he was, causing paramedics to waste valuable time trying to find the trainer's room where Will lay unconscious after collapsing during a game in September 2002.

Laws should be enacted in every state modeled on "Will's Bill," the 2007 Texas law named after Will Benson, which requires that every high school coach and official to be trained in basic safety and emergency procedures. Every coach needs to be certified in CPR, the use of an AED (which should be available at all games and practices), and first aid, with special attention paid to hydration, cardiac and concussion awareness.

Sports officials should be given the right to send any athlete who they reasonably suspect has suffered a concussion during play to the sideline for further evaluation.

High school athletic programs should require that each athlete undergo a pre-participation physical examination that includes the taking of a structured concussion history, including specific questions about previous symptoms of concussion (not just the perceived number of concussions) and previous head, face or neck injuries, as well as questions about symptoms currently being experienced, if any. If a school can't afford to foot the bill for such exams, parents need to get them on their own or, better yet, alternative ways should be explored to provide such exams to all athletes, either through parent fundraising or by asking local medical groups to donate the exams as a community service.