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Child Head Injuries a Summer Risk in Alabama

Jul 7, 2013 - Personal Injury, Tuscaloosa by

It’s been just over two years since Alabama passed a law forbidding young athletes from continuing to play if a concussion is suspected.
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Our Tuscaloosa brain injury lawyers know that the measure failed to receive a lot of publicity when it passed. In some areas, officials say it’s going to take time to spread the word.

There is no enforcement component of the law, but athletic facilities that fail to adhere may face a refusal of coverage by insurance companies. That certainly helps.

Alabama was one of 20 states to pass such a measure. It followed the mandate handed down by the Alabama High School Athletic Association, requiring physician clearance before a youth athlete is allowed to return to practice or the field. In the first year after that measure passed, local hospitals saw their youth concussion cases triple.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that every year, about 135,000 children between the ages of 5 and 18 are treated for sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries. That number is believed to have increased at least slightly with the passage of the latest law.

The requirements of the law are:

  • Each sports or recreational organization must create a head injury or concussion information sheet and provide that to parents and athletes each year for a signature, prior to the start of the season.
  • Each recreational or sports organization has to provide annual training to coaches on recognition of concussion symptoms and appropriate medical treatment.
  • Youth athletes suspected of having a concussion must be immediately pulled from the game or practice and are prohibited from returning until given the written all-clear from a medical doctor.

The law is applicable to a range of athletic programs, from peewee soccer to high school football.

Right now, we are in the midst of baseball season. As such the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a “Nine Innings of Baseball Safety” guideline sheet for parents and coaches.

Part of what is instructed is exactly what Alabama legislators have done: Pull kids suspected of having a concussion from play and bar them from returning without a physician’s OK. Other advice includes:

  • Find a good quality helmet that fits appropriately.
  • Make sure that when the athlete is wearing the helmet, he or she is able to adequately see.
  • Take good care of the helmet once you are using it regularly. This includes properly storing it away from direct sunlight, refraining from allowing anyone to sit or lean on it and not continuing to use it if it becomes cracked or damaged.

In addition to these preventative measures, it’s important for parents to recognize when a child might be suffering from a concussion. These injuries can be caused by even a mild blow to the head, and they won’t always result in a loss of consciousness. Symptoms include:

  • Headache or pressure in the head;
  • Vomiting or nausea;
  • Dizziness or balance problems;
  • Blurry or double vision;
  • Sensitivity to noise or light;
  • Feeling groggy, dazed or fatigued;
  • Trouble paying attention;
  • Trouble remembering;
  • Confusion;
  • Tingling or numbness.

A child experiencing any of these symptoms following a blow to the head should be immediately seen by a doctor.

Additional Information:

Nine Innings of Brain Safety in Baseball, Heads Up Baseball for Coaches and Parents, June 2013, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

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