July 19, 2012
Topic: Injury prevention
In the interest of promoting injury prevention in school athletics, Kansas state lawmakers approved the School Sports Head Injury Prevention Act in July 2011, as reported by The Mirror, a local newspaper. This law requires athletes who are suspected of having a concussion or head injury to be removed from competition and practice. These individuals may only return to play after receiving clearance from a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathic medicine, issued on a day other than the one during which the injury was sustained.
However, the law is less clear on how concussions should be assessed.
Institutions such as Kansas University have implemented computerized evaluations such as the ImPACT test, which all athletes undergo to create a baseline measurement to be compared to re-screening in the event of an actual concussion. Kansas University also uses paper-based cognitive tests.
Some hospitals are reaching out to local high schools to discuss the value of such baseline tests. However, not all schools are able to use such systems because of a lack of expertise. In the event that baseline testing is not available, schools should at least consider taking on more athletic training staff to help with students, Mark Padfield, public relations officer of the Kansas Athletic Trainers Society, told the news source.
If not addressed properly, concussions may lead to lifelong impairments in functions such as emotion, memory and learning ability, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
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