It used to be the case that if a student athlete suffered an injury, their coach would pull them from the game for a play or two. Then, they ushered their star player back on the field as soon as possible. Some coaching staffs even took players back to the locker room to give them a cortisone injection in order to get them on the field quickly. They really only did this to buy time. They knew that at some point they’d have to make sure their player was seen by a doctor. But that could wait until after they’d won the game.
Today, things work a little differently. Coaches are no longer allowed to push players back on the field after they suffer a head injury. This is true for both student and professional athletes. You can watch players in the NFL be taken off the field for the team’s concussion protocol. This is directly linked to the lengthy list of players who suffered long-term issues due to recurrent concussions.
It became pretty obvious that, if professional football players were suffering from recurrent concussions, then so were student athletes. Given the fact that these young people are at such a vulnerable age, it’s even more important that we make their health a priority. If you think that your child was injured as a result of a sports program that didn’t follow concussion protocols, call a skilled brain injury lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama right away.
The First Law Regarding Student Athlete Concussions was Passed in 2009
It wasn’t until 2009 that the first law regarding a protocol for student athlete concussions was passed. The “Zackery Lystedt Law” was passed in Washington State about 10 years ago. This law was passed after a young athlete suffered terribly from multiple concussions. Zackery Lystedt was a high-school football player. He suffered a concussion in a game and was put back into play prematurely. As a result, he suffered permanent disability in 2006.
Zackery’s family and lawyers showed that, had he not been put right back into the game, he probably wouldn’t have suffered any permanent disability. Instead, his coaches returned him to game without checking to see if he was okay. This prompted the first law requiring coaching staff to run a certain concussion protocol if any of their players appear to have suffered any sort of head injury.
Shortly after this law was passed, every state passed similar legislation. This is because the health of our young people is of paramount importance. We can’t allow school coaches or anyone else to put their health at risk, especially so that they can win a football game.
What is the Law in Alabama?
Alabama has their own “Return to Play” law. In Alabama, a student must be evaluated by a medical doctor before they are allowed to return to the game. At a minimum, the law states that no child is allowed to return to the game or practice the same day as their injury.
Some of the other recommendations and requirements under the law include the following:
- Rest until all the symptoms disappear
- Perform light aerobic exercise for a few days after the injury
- Work with the coaching staff to complete sport-specific exercises
- Only take part in non-contact practice until the athlete has been cleared to play
- Only engage in contact practice after a doctor has cleared the student
- Once the student has been fully cleared, they can return to play
If a school doesn’t adhere to these requirements, they can be liable for any future injuries sustained by the student.
Have These Laws Made a Difference?
The hope when these laws were implemented was to lessen the number of student athlete concussions. The problem is the new concussion protocols don’t really help prevent first-time concussions.
Close to 4 million student athletes suffer a concussion in the U.S. every year. But only about 10 percent actually result in unconsciousness. This is one reason why it is difficult for coaches to identify those students who have suffered a concussion.
It will be some time before it can be determined whether the new laws have cut down on recurrent concussions. However, the legislation has certainly helped to shed light on the dangers of multiple concussions and raise awareness of this important issue.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer for Student Athlete Concussions
If your child has suffered a concussion while playing school sports, contact our Alabama personal injury law firm. You may have a potential claim for damages.
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