Shorewood High School plans a more proactive approach to dealing with concussions and related head injuries among its athletes next school year, regardless of the outcome of pending state legislation.
Late last year, state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) authored a bill that would require an athlete be removed immediately from a game after sustaining a concussion or head injury and not be allowed to return until evaluated by a medical professional.
However, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday an amended bill would strip out most of the state mandates and require school districts to develop their own policy.
Bob Delaporte, a spokesperson for Sen. Darling, said that amendment has not been formally introduced and that the senator opposes it.
Delaporte added Darling wrote the legislation to help prevent youth athletes from sustaining second and third concussions, because those are the ones that really do the damage.
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Head injuries among athletes are receiving greater attention since the National Football League significantly tightened its guidelines in the last year.
The league moved kickoffs in five yards in 2012 in hopes of limiting violent collisions, and reported Wednesday that concussions on those plays alone were cut in half.
At least 31 states, and the District of Columbia, have some version of youth concussion legislation that sets rules and regulations for young people returning to play after they have been concussed or sustained a head injury, the Journal Sentinel says.
And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed the Heads Up program for youth sports to provide “important information on preventing, recognizing, and responding to a concussion”
What Shorewood is doing
Shorewood Athletic Director Bill Haury said while the school district doesn’t have a formal policy on concussions, there is an athletic trainer at every home game and practice and if there is a suspected concussion, she examines the athlete.
“We always err on the side of caution,” he said. “We would always rather keep somebody out rather than let them back in and get further injured.
“The key is once they get a concession, you want to keep them out of activities that could reinjure them. The bruise to the brain is not like breaking an arm, where that arm actually heals back stronger.”
Next year, the district plans to implement baseline tests during high school registration. Working with Wheaton Franciscan, the district will conduct roughly eight-minute exams, asking incoming students questions about past head injuries and if they experience symptoms.
The exams will provide a baseline against which a student’s reactions and responses can be measured in case there is an injury.
Haury said he hopes with the new baselines tests performed for every new student, many of who don’t participate in athletics and don’t know the symptoms of head injuries, become more educated about the signs.
“Headache, dizziness, slurred speech, all the signs of a head injury, and it makes the kids say ‘Oh, I am more aware of this’ and they are more likely to report it,” he said.
The bill is being pushed by organizations like the National Football League, Green Bay Packers, Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.