Head Injuries and High School Football

In October, 2013, a 15 year old football player from New Kent High School died tragically after collapsing on the football field during practice. Although he had recently sustained a concussion, he reportedly had been given permission to return to practice.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) estimates that more than 2.7 million football related injuries occurred in the United States from the 2005 through the 2010 school year. A report cited in the American Journal of Sports medicine reports that more catastrophic head injuries occur at the high school level than at the college level.  The report concludes that a high number of high school students continued playing while still suffering symptoms of head injury.

New recommendations for Return to Play (RTP)

A study published in October, 2013 by the Nation Academy of Sciences emphasizes that the traditional “shake it off” policy of immediate return to play (RTP) is dangerous. New guidelines mandate that the athlete should be removed from play as soon as a concussion is suspected.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) 2011 Football Rule Book advises the following steps after a head injury:

  • There should never be RTP the day of the concussion
  • Any player with signs of a concussion should be checked by a health care professional the same day as the injury
  • The player should receive medical clearance before RTP
  • Even with clearance, RTP should be done slowly and any sign or symptom of a concussion should delay RTP

In Virginia these recommendations are law

In Virginia there is a law mandating that student athletes must be removed from play when a concussion is suspected and that there can be no RTP until the student is both evaluated by a health care professional and issued a written clearance.

If your child plays football, you should know that coaches are responsible for educating themselves with current information about head injuries, and abiding by all laws and regulations. You should be aware of the symptoms of concussion such as headache, nausea and confusion and exercise the utmost caution before allowing your child to return to play.

After a head injury, it is illegal for your child to return to the athletic field while experiencing concussion symptoms or before medical clearance. If your child has been hurt on the football field after non-compliance with these rules, you may deserve compensation for medical and other damages. At Forbes & Broadwell we have dealt with many cases that involve brain injury and want to help you receive the compensation you deserve.

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