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Concussion Law and Parent Tips

What the new 2013 Ohio Concussion Law States:

Concussion
  • Prohibits athletes to practice or compete in interscholastic athletics until they have submitted a signed form stating that their parents or guardians have received a concussion and head injury information sheet created by the state Department of Health. 
  • Requires youth sports organizations to provide the concussion and head injury information sheet to parents and guardians of those wanting to practice or compete in their athletic activities.
  • Prohibits individuals from coaching or refereeing in a youth sports organization without successfully completing a free online training program every three years in recognizing the symptoms of concussions (posted on the Ohio Department of Health’s website) or holding a Pupil Activity Permit from the state Board of Education.
  • Requires individuals wanting to coach interscholastic athletics to hold a Pupil Activity Permit. Coaches that already have a current permit must present evidence that they successfully completed the free online training program in recognizing the symptoms of concussions and head injuries, or completed a training program authorized and required by an organization that regulates interscholastic conferences or events in order to renew their permit (renewal occurs every three years).
  • Directs individuals wanting to referee interscholastic athletics to either hold a Pupil Activity Permit for coaching interscholastic athletics or successfully complete the free online training program every three years in recognizing the symptoms of concussions and head injuries.
  • Requires coaches and referees to remove an athlete exhibiting signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with having sustained a concussion or head injury from practice or competition in both interscholastic and youth sports.
  • Prohibits the athlete to return to play on the same day he/she is removed.
  • The athlete cannot return until cleared by a physician or other healthcare provider (such as an athletic trainer or nurse practitioner) working in consultation with or under the supervision of a physician.

Source: Ohio Department of Health (healthyohioprogram.org/concussion)

Concussions – What parents of young athletes should know

“Getting your bell rung …” is an expression used by athletes to describe what happens when a player takes a hard hit to the head and sustains a concussion. Many young athletes view a concussion as simply “part of the game.”

But that attitude needs to change, according to Robert S. Crawford, M.D., Summa Physicians Inc. – Sports Medicine and team physician for the Akron Aeros, Kent State University and Wadsworth High School.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It can be caused by a direct blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow elsewhere on the body, which transmits force to the brain. It injures both brain cells and the blood vessels that feed them.

The injury also triggers a cascade of biochemical reactions, flooding the brain with calcium and potassium ions that cause blood vessels to constrict. This hampers the metabolism of glucose, which is the fuel the brain uses for energy.

Most concussions will resolve on their own in seven to 10 days, but others may take 30 days or more for symptoms to subside.

“Each individual is different,” Dr. Crawford says. He recommends complete physical and mental rest to reduce the metabolic demands placed on the brain while it is healing.

“If you could put injured athletes in a semi-darkened room and have them sit there for three days and do absolutely nothing – no TV, texting, video games, attending school or doing homework – that would be the best early treatment for concussion,” Dr. Crawford says.

Having “the talk” with your child athlete

It’s important for parents to have “the concussion discussion” with their child. Talk to your athlete about the dangers of ignoring a possible concussion.

Make it clear that:

  • Playing with a concussion is dangerous – it is not a sign of courage or toughness
  • Concealing symptoms increases the risk of a life-threatening brain injury
  • Physician instructions and return-to-play guidelines exist to protect – not impede – the athlete and should be followed
  • It’s important to avoid sustaining a second concussion before the first injury has healed

Cases of second injury syndrome are rare but can occur in children and young adults after even minor impacts.

In second injury syndrome, because of the reduced blood flow caused by the first concussion, a seemingly minor second impact can be catastrophic, causing blood flow regulation in the brain to go haywire that can result in serious brain damage or even death.

Pre-testing for young athletes

Dr. Crawford recommends preseason cognitive testing for young athletes because it can help a physician decide when – or if – it is safe for youngsters to return to play after a concussion. Preseason testing provides a baseline for comparison purposes should a child be injured.

Some schools offer testing as a standard part of the school’s athletic program. If your child’s school does not, Summa Center for Sports Health can administer the test. To make a same day/next day appointment, call (888) 778-6627.

Learn More, Read Taylor Chappe's story.