Both the NCAA and NFL have mandatory concussion safety protocols for their athletes. While concussions and head injuries are hard to avoid in football, college and professional football players are required to be evaluated, managed, and treated by a team of professionals. High school football players, on the other hand, don’t to the same degree, even though the game’s the same.
Risks of Injuries in High School Athletes
A seven-year-long study performed by the Purdue Neurotrauma Group discovered that even without a clinical diagnosis of a concussion, high school students were already showing signs of damaged neurological function and brain activity after jars to the head. These researchers focused on pre-concussive head injuries, since they typically lack symptoms associated with concussions. Evidence showed that these head injuries — the ones that go unnoticed — are potentially the most harmful, cause the most long-term damage, and happen more frequently.
A 2014 study in the American Journal of Sports medicine revealed that a staggering 70 percent of student athletes continued to compete despite being symptomatic of a concussion. 40 percent of them failed to even report symptoms to their coaches.
According to the CDC, 47 percent of all reported sports concussions happen during high school football practice. For teens between the ages of 14 and 17, concussions have risen 200 percent in the last ten years. However, fatalities directly related to head injuries acquired on the field have declined: now, there are between zero and eight deaths per year, compared to the 26 student-athletes who died in 1968 from injuries sustained during play.
Individual State Concussion Laws
The management of concussions in high school football players hasn’t been as regulated as professional or college football. In January 2014, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the Mississippi Youth Concussion Act, which meant that every state had its own mandatory concussion law. Until then, there wasn’t a standard protocol for a student obtaining a concussion while playing football.
The sports concussion law exists so that mandatory concussion protocols are implemented for the safety of all school and youth athletes. Much like the NCAA and NFL, the protocol touches on issues such as:
- Removal from play or competition
- Baseline cognitive assessments
- Concussion education for parents, coaches, and student-athletes
- Return-to-learn and return-to-play processes
There are variations in these protocols by state. It’s up to the coaches and other athletic professionals to evaluate, develop, and implement the mandates required by their state’s legislation.
Concussion Management Laws in Indiana
The State of Indiana Concussion Law is applicable only to students in grades 9-12 who participate in interscholastic or intramural sports. If suspected or diagnosed with a concussion, the law recommends removing the student from competition immediately.
As an extension to the law, in July 2017 coaches at all public schools are required to participate in concussion management training. The training gives them civil immunity to protect them against any lawsuits pursued by injured student athletes.
The Indiana High School Athletic Association received reports of 2,200 concussive events in the 2014-2015 academic year alone. This far surpasses the rate of concussions in college football. This could be due to the fact that high schoolers are at a much higher risk for concussions and catastrophic head injuries because their brains are still developing. During developmental stages, the teenage brain is much more fragile than the adult brains of athletes competing at the college and professional level.
Get Help From a Personal Injury Lawyer in Indiana
If your child has suffered a concussion during competition, there’s still time to contact the personal injury attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham for a free case evaluation.