Traumatic brain injuries, if left untreated, can lead to serious long-term neurological problems. A New Jersey law has just been signed to combat this problem. The law demands that coaches remove all athletes who show signs of a concussion from play. Both public and private school coaches are responsible for making sure their athletes are healthy and in good playing condition. If players are injured and diagnosed with a concussion, they will need a full medical exam and clearance from their doctors before they are allowed to resume play.
Student Athletes at Risk
Some athletes have continued playing after a head injury because they show no clear symptoms of injury. However, if injury is evident, athletes must be removed to protect their long-term health. Each district will have individual policies on how to deal with these injuries, but the essential requirements put in place by the law are the same.
Combating the Drive to Win
Good athletes have an overpowering urge to compete through their injuries, not realizing the true effects a brain injury can have months down the road. This new law is a turning point in competitive sports, because it promotes wellness instead of fierce competition. The law coincides with stricter NFL policies on the ejection and suspension of professional sports players who have received blows to the head.
Some schools require athletes to take computerized evaluations called ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) before the start of the sports season. This sets a baseline of brain function. If injured, a second test can be administered to compare with the baseline and tell doctors if there is brain injury present.
High Numbers of Brain Injury in Athletes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every year, more than 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur. Most of these injuries are sustained by high school athletes. Despite the high injury rates, few schools and districts have policies in place to address how the injuries are treated. Schools must recognize and fix the lack of concern over student head injuries. In addition, they must also educate parents and coaches about the signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury.
Sometimes, the athlete will show no signs of injury. It is the coach’s responsibility to watch the players and immediately pull them from play if a harmful blow to the head occurs. Even if the coaches are not sure if a player is truly injured, it is safest to remove the athlete for further medical evaluation. Certified athletic trainers must be made available at all sporting events, including practices, to be certain athletes get proper medical attention.
If you or someone you love is currently suffering from a traumatic brain injury, contact our attorneys. We are a knowledgeable, caring office and we will do everything we can to make sure you are fully compensated for any past, current or future medical bills, as well as lost wages and pain and suffering.