NEW COLORADO LAW EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2012 AIMS TO PROTECT YOUTH ATHLETES
In March, 2011, Governor John Hickenlooper signed into state law the "Jake Snakenberg Youth Sports Concussion Act". This law, considered one of the most sweeping laws in the nation, is designed to help protect youth athletes from head injuries by requiring concussion awareness training for public and private school coaches, as well as volunteer coaches and manages in organizations like Little League.
The bill was named after Jake Snakenberg, a high school football player who died in 2004 after sustaining a hit during a game closely following an undiagnosed concussion from a hit in a previous game.
The bill requires that coaches receive education about concussions, that a student athlete is removed from the field of play if a concussion is suspected, and that the student be signed off by a healthcare professional before returning to play. The Act is effective as of January 1, 2012.
For information on Concussion in Youth Sports please visit http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/pdf/parents_Eng.pdf
ONLINE CONCUSSION TRAINING REQUIRED FOR ALL NBLL MANAGERS AND COACHES!
All NBLL Managers and Coaches will be required by law to take the online concussion training course, found here. http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/headsup/online_training.html
We hope that all parents and other league volunteers will also take the time to complete this training.
Addendum on Concussions added to NBLL Medical Release/Consent Form
An addendum on Concussions has been added to the 2012 NBLL Medical Release/Consent Form. In addition, any player suspect of concussion or potential concussion will be required to present written clearance to play by a medical professional.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is an injury to the brain and most commonly does not involve a loss of consciousness. A concussion is a brain injury and all brain injuries are serious. They are caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or by a blow to another part of the body with the force transmitted to the head. They can range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way the brain normally works. Even though most concussions are mild, all concussions are potentially serious and may result in complications including prolonged brain damage and death if not recognized and managed properly. In other words, even a “ding” or a bump on the head can be serious. You can’t see a concussion and most sports concussions occur without loss of consciousness. Signs and symptoms of concussion may show up right after the injury or can take hours or days to fully appear.
If your child reports any symptoms of concussion, or if you notice the symptoms or signs of concussion yourself, seek medical attention right away.
Some things to know about concussions:
- Concussions may be caused by a direct blow to the head, face, neck or elsewhere on the body. These blows transmit an impulse of energy to the brain that disrupts its function.
- Concussions typically result in the rapid onset and short-lived impairment of brain function. This impairment usually resolves spontaneously.
- Concussions are a problem in the function of the brain and not a change in the structure of the brain. Therefore, imaging tests of the brain (MRI, CT) are commonly normal for concussed individuals.
- Frequently, concussions result from a head blow even if there is no loss of consciousness.
- The symptoms of a concussion usually resolve in a slow and steady fashion.
What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?
An athlete can display a wide range of symptoms consistent with altered mental status. The athlete often will not know that the symptoms represent a concussions. This is why it is IMPERATIVE that adult coaches and volunteers closely monitor athletes after ANY impact (direct or indirect) to the head. This includes direct and indirect contact with objects or people.
The following symptoms may be observed on the sideline, dugout, or bench:
- Athlete is unaware of inning, score of game, name of opposing team
- Loss of consciousness
- Unaware of time, date, place
- Vacant facial expression
- Slurred speech or slow to answer questions
- Clumsiness or displays lack of coordination
- Seizures or convulsions
- Any change in typical behavior or personality
Other typical symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unsteadiness/Loss of balance
- Feeling "dazed" or "dinged"
- "Pressure in head"
- Double vision
- Ringing in ears
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Neck pain
- Grogginess or Drowsiness
- "Doesn't feel right"
- Sadness or irritability or heightened emotion
- Repeating words or phrases or questions
The range and potential vague nature often make diagnosis difficult.
What should I do if I suspect someone may have a concussion?
If anyone suspects an athlete may have the potential for a concussion, it is imperative that the athlete is removed from the competition and medical assessment or treatment is sought immediately. It's much better to be safe than sorry!
The Jake Snakenberg Act (effective in Colorado on January 1, 2012) requires that any athlete removed from competition for a suspected concussion provide written clearance from a medical professional before being allowed to return to the field of play.
What can happen if my child keeps on playing with a concussion or returns to soon?
Athletes with the signs and symptoms of concussion should be removed from play immediately. Continuing to play with the signs and symptoms of a concussion leaves the young athlete especially vulnerable to greater injury. There is an increased risk of significant damage from a concussion for a period of time after that concussion occurs, particularly if the athlete suffers another concussion before completely recovering from the first one. This can lead to prolonged recovery, or even to severe brain swelling (second impact syndrome) with devastating and even fatal consequences. It is well known that adolescent or teenage athlete will often under report symptoms of injuries. And concussions are no different. As a result, education of administrators, coaches, parents and students is the key for student-athlete’s safety.
Any athlete even suspected of suffering a concussion should be removed from the game or practice immediately. No athlete may return to activity after an apparent head injury or concussion, regardless of how mild it seems or how quickly symptoms clear, without medical clearance. Close observation of the athlete should continue for several hours. The new “Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Law” now requires in Colorado youth sports, the consistent and uniform implementation of long and well-established return to play concussion guidelines.
You should also inform your child’s coach if you think that your child may have a concussion. Remember, its better to miss one game than miss the whole season. And when in doubt, the athlete sits out.
For current and up-to-date information on concussions you can go to: http://www.cdc.gov/ConcussionInYouthSports
Parts of the above article were taken from information provided by the Sports Concussion Center of Colorado (www.sportsccc.com.).