With every passing year, we have more evidence that repeated concussions lead to early-onset dementia and depression in professional athletes. This has raised numerous questions about the safety of what is arguably America’s favorite sport. The most notable question is what to do about the number of kids possibly endangering themselves by playing youth football.
Now, Arizona is creating rules and laws for governing how high schools react to possible concussions. In the pasy two years, one hospital in Arizona alone diagnosed 403 concussions, which is nothing compared to the number who brush off head injuries without reporting them.
What makes concussions so dangerous is their cumulative and difficult to assess nature. The most telling sign of a concussion, loss of consciousness, only happens rarely. Concussions also get more dangerous the more times a person has one, especially without proper recovery first.
Proper recovery time is longer than most coaches and players are willing to sit out. It takes around 7 to 10 days to fully recover, and proper treatment requires minimal movement, as well as thinking.
This is why Arizona has passed a law requiring a player be pulled from a game if a concussion is suspected, and players are required to get clearance from a doctor before returning to contact play. Players also have to take a concussion education course online and submit to baseline testing prior to play to assist in screening for concussions.
The biggest hurdle facing these laws is getting parents to begin realizing how serious concussions can be. After being raised with the idea that “getting knocked silly” is just a part of playing sports, it is difficult to make some parents understand what a concussion could really mean. They need education.
They also need to be reminded that loss of consciousness isn’t ubiquitous with concussions. They need to be taught all of the symptoms of concussions, and that no helmet can protect from a TBI.
Schools all over the nation are adopting policies like the ones in Arizona, and they may be what youth athletes in Oklahoma need to stay safe.
What we don’t need is parents overreacting and rallying for the closure of school football leagues. Our kids need to be active, and playing sports is a great way to keep your children healthy and fit. Parents just need to be sure children are taking proper precautions and know to report any injuries to their parents. Communication is important in educating the parents and children involved in this potentially dangerous game.
The Arizona Daily Sun has more information on the policies being enacted in their state.