States Taking the Lead Addressing Concussions

Daniel L. Squadron

January 30, 2010

As dozens of state lawmakers consider legislation to improve awareness and treatment of concussions in youth sports, the movement is resembling a music style or weather pattern: what started in the Pacific Northwest is wafting across the United States.

Last year Washington and Oregon passed the first concussion-specific laws covering scholastic sports. Each mandated education for coaches, immediate removal from play of any athlete suspected of a concussion in a game or practice and proper medical clearance before that athlete could return. Washington’s in particular — named after Zackery Lystedt, a teenager who in 2006 sustained a serious brain injury playing football — is a template for other states formulating similar legislation.

The trend will get a name next week when the Zackery Lystedt Brain Project is formally announced at the Super Bowl. Spearheaded by the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation and the American College of Sports Medicine, the initiative will continue those organizations’ push for states to enact laws similar to Washington’s. Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York are among those with bills in the works...

...A challenge for many states, particularly rural ones, will be finding the medical personnel to comply with the laws. State Senator Daniel L. Squadron of New York, a Democrat and the sponsor of his state’s bill, said that requiring doctors on every sideline was distractingly costly for this first step.

“We are in a world where certain communities have the resources or knowledge of these issues, and others don’t, and it’s catch as catch can,” Squadron said. “The first piece is make sure that coaches catch the signs early to help prevent these injuries. And then make sure there’s an independent medical professional making the return-to-play decision so that you don’t have the issues of someone related to the team making the decision. Frankly, it makes life easier for the coaches and trainers.”

Click Here to read the entire feature article in The New York Times