Starting this fall, high school athletes in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida are being required to take an online course that is aimed at raising their awareness of concussions, a mild but serious form of traumatic brain injury.
As the Orlando Sentinel reports, the program is the first of its kind in the country and a response to a study published in 2014 which found that most young athletes lack a basic understanding of concussion symptoms and consequences.
Our law firm applauds the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) for launching this program. Hopefully, it will lead to fewer concussions this sports season.
However, the onus will remain on coaches, trainers and athletics directors to ensure the safety of the young athletes under their care and supervision.
Study: Young Athletes in Florida Fail to Recognize, Report Concussions
In September 2014, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) published a study in the Journal of Athletic Training.
The study reported the results of a survey of 334 high school football players in Florida which was conducted shortly after the passage of a youth sports safety concussion bill.
The bill, according to a NATA press release
about the study, required parents and athletes to sign a concussion consent form. It also required athletes to report to trainers, coaches and their parents if they believed they were experiencing concussion symptoms.
However, as University of Florida researchers reported in the study, few of the players indicated that they understood that symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, concentration difficulties and changes in behavior were indicative of concussions.
They also did not realize that concussions could lead to brain hemorrhages, comas and death, according to the NATA press release.
This was especially troubling, according to the researchers, when one considers the prevalence and seriousness of concussions among young athletes. According to the NATA, each year:
300,000 people report to ERs with sports-related brain injuries
6 to 3.8 million concussions occur during sports and recreation
Half of those concussions occur due to participation in football
However, more than half of young athletes do not report concussions.
Additionally, according to the NATA, young athletes are especially susceptible to:
Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) – When symptoms persist after a concussion
Second-impact syndrome – Swelling of the brain that occurs when a person suffers a second concussion before the first one has healed.
The study made several recommendations, including using education of young athletes as a way to prevent and manage concussions.
Program Aims to Prevent Sports-Related Brain Injuries in Florida
In the wake of the study, the FHSAA is now requiring all high school athletes – not just athletes who participate in contact sports such as football, soccer, basketball, wrestling and lacrosse –to take an online course about concussions. If they fail to complete the course, they will be ineligible to play.
According to the Sentinel, the FHSAA will randomly check high schools throughout the year for proof that athletes have completed the course. A coach can be suspended until all athletes on his or her team have completed it.
By making young athletes more aware of concussions, this program should help to protect them. It may make them more likely to pull themselves out of play and to seek immediate medical attention if they experience symptoms.
Still, the ultimately responsibility will lie with trainers, coaches and athletic directors.
For instance, they must make sure that young athletes are taught techniques and provided with equipment that can help to prevent concussions.
They must also ensure that concussions are properly managed.
If you believe that your child suffered a brain injury that was not correctly handled by his or her school, you should make sure to protect your rights by contacting Orlando personal injury attorney, Frank Eidson, P.A.