Illinois athletic trainer weighs in on proposed concussion law



Illinois athletic trainer weighs in on proposed concussion law

Concussions, especially at the high school level, have become a major focus the last few years. New laws have already done more to prevent concussions. Now, more ideas to keep kids safe are making it to the Statehouse.

When athletes take a hit like this, Devin Spears is the first to check them for a concussion.

“Start to stagger, they don’t look right, they may be a half-step slower than everybody else.”

Spears is an athletic trainer. He has seen a lot in his 30 years working with athletes. He says concussions are a whole new ballgame.

“The biggest thing that you can be concerned about with a concussion is some kind of a fracture; a skull fracture which could lead to a brain bleed which is a subdural hematoma. Those the things can kill athletes.”

The CDC says nearly 140 people in the United States die from injuries which include traumatic brain injury. In 2009, close to 250,000 children, ages 19 or younger, were treated for concussions.

“When the brain tissue comes into contact with the skull, that’s what causes damage. That’s where you need to have the evaluation techniques or have a certified athletic trainer on hand,” said Spears.

A new state proposal would require trainers to compile monthly reports on the number of students who suffer concussions. It’s something they say they already do.

“We do keep regular records because, when we do get the kids to see the physicians, the physicians want to know what happened, what were the circumstances, what were they like when this occurred?” said Spears.

Athletic directors say they already have procedures in place to make sure their players are safe.

“A student athlete is injured in a game and we feel as though there’s a possibility for concussion, the first thing we will do will give that impact test,” said Dan Roarke.

They say any new law or idea to keep students from getting a serious brain injury should be looked at.

“In my mind is what we’re doing right now, is it going to help? If it helps one kid, it’s worth doing. Is it necessary? Let’s say yes,” said Roarke.

The bill requires an annual report be submitted to the General Assembly. Students who suffer concussions will now also need medical permission to return to class. That law went into effect this month.

All schools must also create plans for dealing with concussions. Other laws include pulling players from practices or games if they show signs or symptoms of a concussion.