April 24, 2014

State steps up protection against sports-related concussions (AUDIO)

Nebraska’s Concussion Awareness Act went into effect on July 1.

Gone are the days when we tell our child athletes to shake it off and get back in the game. The last few years, concussions have been in the forefront, as we’ve seen professional sports take a closer look at how they treat current and former athletes who have suffered concussions. Dr. Joann Schaefer, Nebraska Chief Medical Officer, says the state is now up to par in terms of coaches and trainers spotting and evaluating concussions early on.

“Concussion is a lot more serious than we used to think. It means if a child is having symptoms of concussion that if they go back in and get a second concussion, it can lead to long term, brain injury something that may even be permanent,” Schaefer told us.

A concussion can have short term and long term consequences, which may include a headache, vomiting or nausea, weakness, dizziness, blurred vision, concentration and memory problems. Nebraska’s Concussion Awareness Act became effective July 1, mandating concussion education for coaches, parents and players. It also sets rules of play for youth suspected of having a concussion, spelling out how coaches will handle suspected concussions and that young athletes not be allowed to return to play until written approval from an appropriate licensed healthcare professional and the youth’s parent or guardian is obtained.

“When they (coaches and trainers) spot a kid that’s been injured on the field, they need to be evaluated in a very systemized way,” added Schaefer, who also says the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services offers a free online 15- to 20-minute training program that she highly encourages parents to participate in as well.

AUDIO Dr. Joann Schafer with tips for spotting concussion and comments on the new law (8:00)

Click here for additional information on sports concussions.