Illinois and U.S. Government Look to Guidelines for High School Athletes and Concussions

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 3.9 million sports-related and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year. Most of the reported sports-related concussions occur in high school football. Continuing to play a sport with a concussion or symptoms of a head injury makes the young athlete extremely vulnerable to much more serious injury and even death.

Too often, athletes whose competitive spirit drives them to continue participating even after what amounts to a concussion, return to playing. If in fact the athlete has suffered a concussion, returning to play increases the risks of serious injury or death many times. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, 7.6 million students participated in high school sports in 2009-2010.  Of those, 1.1 million were playing football.  Those participants in football had nearly twice as many athletes participating as the second most popular sport, track and field. Softball ranked third with 540,000 student-athletes nationwide.

Concussions are common in sports. The student athlete and coach may not understand the consequences resulting from concussions sustained during sports play.It has been estimated that 300,000 sport-related concussions occur in the United States yearly. Forty-one percent of the concussions sustained by athletes occurred while playing football, while 22 percent resulted from girls’ soccer. Incidents of concussions are on the rise. Because of that obvious statistic, Illinois has enacted regulations emphasizing the dangers of concussions and the ramifications of non-treatment. 

On the federal level, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin has introduced legislation that would require states to “develop concussion safety guidelines for public school districts. That includes posting educational information on school grounds and school websites about concussion symptoms, risks and recommended responses for student athletes, parents, coaches and school officials.”  The law would require student athletes who have symptoms of suffering concussions to sit out practice or games. 

The Illinois law requires any student suspected of suffering a concussion to obtain evaluation and clearance from a medical professional before returning to the playing field. The law also makes it a requirement for school districts to inform students, parents and coaches about the dangers of concussions. Illinois is ahead of other state laws in terms of the issue of alerting student athletes about the dangers of concussions. 

With the outbreak of reported concussions, serious injuries and death in some cases, the states and federal government are taking a much more urgent look into guidelines that would prevent or reduce the number of incidents on America’s playing fields.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling sports injury cases, medical negligence cases, birth injury cases and nursing home abuse cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Buffalo Grove, Palatine, Chicago (Edgebrook, West Loop, Greektown, Little Italy, Bridgeport, Canaryville, Stockyards), Western Springs, Hillside, Countryside, Palos Heights, Worth, Alsip and Calumet City, Ill.

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