Concussion Legislation | Southern Education Desk
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Schools across Louisiana are now required to work harder to prevent student athletes from getting concussions. New sports-injury prevention techniques recently became law in the state. And educators in Monroe are using the law as a guideline to keep kids safe.
The new Louisiana Youth Concussion Act is aimed at educating athletes, trainers and families on how to prevent serious sports injuries. State Senate Bill 189 calls concussions “one of the most commonly reported injuries” among student athletes.
|A Caroll High Football Player Hits the Weights|
Jackie Hamilton is the head coach of Caroll High School’s football team. He’s seen his share of concussions over the years. Hamilton says a football player’s bearing changes radically after a big blow to the head.
“It’s a strange look on a kid’s face when he comes off the field, once you get him to the sidelines. Their eyes are not focused. They don’t answer questions directly. You have some that try to play it off. But any time you have a concussion, there are some symptoms that just can’t be hidden. Like I say, the glassy eyes, the blurred speech, balance problems.”
Seventeen-year-old Colby Webb knows exactly what coach Hamilton means. He plays fullback for Ouachita Christian School, just outside the Monroe City district. Webb took a helmet-to-helmet hit in a game earlier this year.
“It hurt so bad. I’ve never had my head hurt that bad before. I just remember trying to get up – I know it was a big hit because my feet almost left the ground. I remember trying to get up, and when I got up everything was just a little shaky and a little foggy. And I just wasn’t really sure what was going on. I just knew I had to get up.”
Webb had suffered a concussion, and was kept out of the next two games for his own safety.
A concussion means dangerous stress for the brain. University of Louisiana at Monroe’s head of Kinesiology, Ken Alford explains.
“A concussion really is bruising the brain. The brain is surrounded by a couple of heavy fibrous connective tissue sheaths. It’s the dura of the brain. In between the thinner dura that lies right against the brain and the thicker dura that lies just under the skull, there’s a fluid cavity. And in that cavity the brain sort of floats; it becomes a hydrostatic cushion for the brain. A trauma to the head causes these fibrous connective tissue sheaths to press against the brain and produce some swelling. So, we think of it like a bruise.”
The death of a sixteen-year-old football player in New York State from brain injuries following a hit in a game on October 14 underscores the importance of becoming educated on concussion symptoms. In addition to Louisiana, other states, such as Alabama, have recently passed concussion-awareness laws.
Here in Monroe, the school board has just ratified new policy aimed at protecting its students, in compliance with the state law. It requires coaches to complete an annual concussion recognition course.
Superintendent of Schools, Kathleen Harris, says the biggest change will involve rigorous medical attention.
“The main thing is making sure that when there is a head injury, or any type of injury that could be problematic or serious as the statute says, or the act says, that we have medical people who can in fact determine that it is serious and will not allow a child to continue to participate or play until that child has received a doctor’s note or a statement that says they are ready to return back into active competition.”
For kinesiology professor, Ken Alford, the new state law may represent a turning point in student athlete safety.
“It seems to be a reasonable approach to it. Now, it’s a problem that’s been around forever. Unfortunately, it’s the sort of thing that’s been an ignored problem because we really, now, have better technology to determine what’s going on inside the trauma centers – inside the head when trauma occurs – that we weren’t able to look at before.”
At Caroll High School, Jackie Hamilton says he and his staff recognize the importance of being educated on the latest developments in concussion education. But even before the new laws, a culture of safer play has been developing – at least at Caroll High. Coach Hamilton says he has been instructing his players to avoid head-to-head tackling. And the coach says that there have been no concussions on his team so far this year.