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New California Law Seeks to Protect Youth Football Players from Brain Injuries

| Apr 17, 2016 | Firm News

Out of the nearly 102,000 high school football players who will take the field in California, 3,000 are expected to suffer a concussion this year, based on prevalence rates by the nonprofit organization USA Football. With these shocking statistics in mind, California lawmakers are taking a tough stance against youth football head injuries. In July, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2127 into law, which seeks to reduce brain injuries and concussions among California’s middle and high school football players.

California AB 2127

The new California law, which takes effect January 1, 2015, is set to help limit full-contact football practices and also ensure athletes who have suffered a brain injury do not return to the game too soon. The new law applies to all public, private and charter schools in the state of California. As the law currently stands, full-contact practices can be held daily during the football season. AB 2127 will prohibit middle and high school football teams from holding full-contact practices over 90 minutes on a single day, ban teams from holding more than two full-contact practices per week during the season and also prohibit contact practices during the off-season.

Additionally, measures for return-to-play are being further developed by the California Interscholastic Federation. In a recent study published by the CDC, more than 40 percent of high school athletes return to sports before they have fully recovered from serious head injuries. To help prevent athletes from sustaining further injury, the new law will force middle and high school football teams to bench athletes for at least seven days following a diagnosed concussion or concussion like symptoms from a licensed health care provider.

High School Football and Brain Injuries

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 140,000 athletes ages 19 and under sustained concussions while participating in five major male sports and four major female sports during 2012. In the state of California, football has the highest incident rate of concussion of any male sport, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Additionally, a 2013 study conducted by the Institute of Medicine, found that high school players sustained concussions at double the rate of college players.

California joins 19 other states that have implemented legislature to help combat this growing concern and there are many prominent prevention programs in place across the country. The Heads Up Football program backed by USA Football has been at the forefront of this issue. The program aims to teach proper techniques in tackling to reduce helmet-to-helmet contact as well as ensure that safety equipment is properly fitted to help prevent injury. The organization also educates coaches, players and parents about concussion recognition and awareness.

Symptoms of a Concussion

A concussion is considered to be a mild form of a traumatic brain injury, which is caused, by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. An individual can also suffer a concussion from a fall. According to the CDC, the leading causes of concussions seen in emergency rooms include: playing sports, motor vehicle accidents, falls, assaults and unintentionally being struck by an object.

Concussion symptoms can vary with each individual and unique injury. Some common concussion symptoms include:

  • Difficulty remembering recent events or feeling mentally foggy
  • Headaches or difficulty with exposure to bright lights or loud noises
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Emotional or mood changes such as irritability, sadness or anxiety
  • Sleep pattern changes such as sleeping more or less than usual

What to do When a Concussion Occurs

According to USA Football, there are important measures to follow in the event that a high school athlete or, anyone for that matter, may have sustained a concussion or brain injury.

  • Remove the athlete from the game or practice field immediately.
  • Ensure that the athlete is evaluated by an appropriate health care professional.
  • Inform the athlete’s parents or guardians of the possible concussion.
  • Only allow the athlete to return to the field after he or she has been medically cleared by a health care professional and be sure to enforce the proper return-to-play procedures and policies.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury May Cause Brain Damage

A concussion or mild traumatic brain injury can affect a student athlete’s ability to complete schoolwork and other basic activities. It is crucial to get the proper rest and give the brain time to heal. Mild and moderate brain injuries, including concussions or injuries in which a person does not lose consciousness, can take weeks or even months to become apparent.

All head injuries should be taken very seriously. According to a recent study published by the Medical Journal of the American Academy of Neurology, even mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions caused by everyday accidents may cause brain damage and thinking and memory problems. Contact a licensed medical provider as soon as possible if you suspect that you or your child may be suffering from the after effects of a mild traumatic brain injury.

Contact an Experienced San Diego Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a family member has suffered from a brain injury or any type of head trauma, contact the experienced San Diego personal injury lawyers at Martinez Schill LLP to discuss the circumstances of your accident. Our San Diego personal injury attorneys will evaluate your case and advise you on how to proceed with your accident claim. Martinez & Schill LLP takes personal injury cases on a contingency basis, and does not charge clients until the case is won. Call 951-200-4630 or contact us online to set up an initial consultation today.