Concussion law passed
     2012-02-16      By Mandy Fritzler    mandyfritzler@geringcitizen.com
Nebraska’s new Concussion Awareness Act will take effect July 1 requiring that all athletes who are suspected of having a concussion during a game be removed from play and not allowed to return to play until cleared by a licensed health care professional. The athlete must then provide a written clearance to play from both a licensed physician as well as the players parents.
The bill effects any school having athletes 19 years old or younger, as well as any sports organization, including youth leagues and club sports, or any organization sponsoring a sporting activity where there is a cost to participants or where costs are sponsored.
The Centers for Disease Control describes a concussion as a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works.
According to the Brain Injury Association of Nebraska young athletes’ recovery times for sports concussions are longer than college athletes’ recovery times. Young athletes’ who sustain a concussion are three times more likely to sustain a second concussion. Lack of proper concussion treatment can result in long term problems. Chief Flight Nurse, Tracy Meyer, at Regional West Medical Center says that if a child is not removed from play and they are hit again it can cause second impact syndrome, which can be deadly to the individual sustaining it.
Concussions can occur at any sport or recreational activity. Coaches, parents, and athletes need to learn concussion signs and symptoms and what to do if there is a concussion. Nebraska’s Concussion Awareness Act requires that concussion educational training be made available to all coaches on how to recognize symptoms of a concussion. It also requires that athletes and parents be provided concussion information prior to an athlete’s participation on an annual basis. The information that must be presented is: the signs and symptoms of a concussion, risks posed by sustaining a concussion, and actions an athlete should take in response to sustaining a concussion-including informing their coaches.
Meyer says that the signs and symptoms are different from one person to another but some of the most common signs are headache, dizziness, nausea, abnormal sleeping patterns, as well as confusion. Testing the individual’s memory by asking them to recite a sequence of words or saying the days of the week backwards can be key in determining whether or not a concussion has been sustained.
Meyer also recommends that athletes’ brains are tested before the season, either through a written test or computer generated test, to determine what their baseline is. That way if a player does sustain a concussion they can be re-tested and health care professionals can help them get back to normal.
Gering began implementing a test to athletes called ImPACT at the start of the 2011-2012 school year. ImPACT stands for Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing. It is the first most-widely used and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. The test has already proved to be helpful in an incident that occurred during Gering’s football season. Senior, Kaleb Shaw, was noticed to have been suffering from concussion symptoms by Coach Jimmie Rhodes. Rhodes then called Shaw’s parents to immediately take him to Regional West Medical Center. It was determined there that Shaw had sustained a concussion and thanks to the ImPACT test he had taken previously in the year, doctors and coaches were able to help him get back to normal before returning to play or suffering more serious complications. (See Sept. 22, 2011 issue for full story)
Meyer has been giving a free presentation, “Is Your Head in It?” at Regional West Medical Center to help raise awareness about concussion injuries. Future dates are yet to be determined, but Regional West will be holding more informational clinics. Meyer stresses the seriousness of concussions and encourages everyone to get educated.


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