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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Proposed law looks at effects of concussions

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As pediatricians at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, we’ve witnessed the disturbing effects of concussions.

We’ve seen children and teenagers endure headaches, depression, poor memory and an inability to focus on their class work. Fortunately, with proper treatment and recovery time, most all of these young people are able to get back to enjoying school, sports and other activities.

But young athletes who return to the field or court before their brain injury heals could risk permanent and potentially catastrophic brain injury, or even death.

Senate Bill 93 – authored by state Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle – would, provide students, parents, coaches and medical personnel with powerful tools to protect kids in three key ways:

Education: the Indiana Department of Education, consulting with the Indiana High School Athletic Association and medical experts on concussions, would develop and distribute guidelines and information sheets to teach coaches, athletes and parents about the risk of head injuries.

The information would include the dangers of continuing to play after such an injury and the importance of young athletes receiving proper medical supervision before returning to play.

Identification: any student-athlete suspected of suffering a concussion or head injury must be removed from practice or the game at the time of the injury and not return to play

Recovery: students removed may not return until they have been evaluated and received written clearance to play by a licensed health care provider trained in treating concussions.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury, not a simple case of “getting your bell rung.”

Each year, our nation’s emergency departments treat an estimated 135,000 sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries among children ages 5 to 18. Young people with head injuries should never feel pressured to get back in the game before they are medically cleared to do so.

Dr. Joseph O’Neil is a neurodevelopment pediatrician with Riley at IU Health and chairperson of the Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention of the Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Daniel Kraft is director of Riley Hospital for Children Sports Medicine at IU Health and is a co-director of the Indiana Sports Concussion Network.

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