Tens of thousands of youth sport’s players are killed each year due to traumatic brain injuries, more commonly referred to as concussions. Hundreds of thousands more are severely injured, requiring hospitalization. Sadly, concussions among young athletes appear to be on the rise, with emergency room visits for traumatic brain injuries increasing over 60% in the past decade.
In the face of these alarming statistics, each and every state except for Mississippi has passed youth concussion laws which set guidelines for the coaches and volunteers on how to act when an athlete suffers from a possible brain injury. Mississippi Senator Michel Watson of Pascagoula tried twice to pass such a bill, but both times the measure failed. The first bill passed unanimously in the Senate then died in the Public Health Committee. The second bill similarly failed to garner the necessary support. Now, however, a youth concussion law is winding its way through the legislative process and appears on track for approval.
Recently, the house passed a bill that would set protocols for youth athletes showing possible signs of a concussion, by an overwhelming vote of 116-1. Under the proposed new law, a school aged athlete showing or reporting signs of a concussion must be removed from the game or practice for at least one day and will not be permitted to return to sports until cleared by a medical doctor. This legislation is being pushed by both the House and Senate this session.
The landslide House vote was a significant victory for this long-fought bill. The bill was actually authored by House Public Chairman Sam Mims, whose committee killed the Senate concussion bill back in 2012. Senator Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula introduced a similar bill this week which would require all schools, private or public, that have youth athletic programs, adopt a concussion management policy.
The pending concussion legislation is a result of much effort on the part of local lawmakers. Lawmakers worked with the Brain Injury Association, the state Medical Association, and the NFL to draft the measures. The timing of the bills is pivotal, as troubling new studies continue to emerging demonstrating the frequency of concussions amongst sports players. A recent study published by the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine found that over 3.8 million concussion injuries occur each year and as many as 50 percent go unreported.
Lee Jenkins, executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Mississippi, expressed gratitude that the bill was moving forward. She stressed, however, that she wishes it had been stronger. Jenkins and her Association pushed for the legislation to include youths in recreational leagues. However, neither version of the bills in the House and Senate cover recreational leagues. Jenkins vows the Brain Injury Association will continue to push for protection for this youth group.
The goal of these youth concussion sports laws is to prevent second-impact syndrome. Second-impact syndrome occurs when an individual already experiencing a concussion then sustains a second head injury. When this occurs, the brain swells catastrophically, leading to potentially severe complications. By ensuring each athlete suspected to be suffering from a concussion is not allowed back into the game without medical clearance, Mississippi coaches and volunteers should be able to prevent their young players from experiencing serious brain trauma.
The attorneys at the Giddens Law Firm want to see all youth sports players enjoy the thrill of competition and play while staying safe. To this end, the Giddens Law Firm applauds the efforts of lawmakers in passing this significant youth concussion law. For those children who have experienced a concussion while playing sports, the traumatic brain injury experts at Giddens Law Firm can help. Contact us today at (601) 355-2022 to schedule a free initial consultation.