SPEAK OUT: Cracking Down on Concussions in School Sports

Should the state pass stricter requirements when it comes to regulating and treating student athlete concussions?

Sports practices for public schools in Prince George's and Montgomery counties start up soon—but new state regulations may mean changes for athletes and coaches. 

The state school board passed new requirements last week that say athletic coaches in Maryland must be trained in identifying serious head injuries, The Baltimore Sun reports.

Thomas Hearn, a Montgomery County parent, spoke to the state school board in May after his son sustained a concussion, and pushed for members to consider limiting the number of contact practices in a week, The Sun reported.

Hearn also plans to continue pursuing even stricter requirements than those passed by the state from Montgomery County’s school board, according to The Sun. 

Earl Hawkins, the director of interscholastic athletics for Prince George's County Public Schools, says coaches are required to take a concussion awareness course, and students and parents receive informational packets on the signs and symptoms of concussions before participating in contact sports. 

WBALTV reported that the state’s new regulations, which go into effect immediately, came after a study that indicated 60,000 high school and college athletes suffer concussions in a year from contact sports.

"I want to be clear that even one is too many," Dr. Ivan Walks, a state board member, told WBALTV. “We understand that the second one can be worst, but even one can be devastating if you respect the material that we've gotten." 

Hearn told The Sun he thinks additional regulations should require students and parents become more educated about concussions before getting involved with a contact sport. 

Prince George's public schools are reviewing regulations being used nationally to explore whether the county needs to make additional changes, according to Hawkins. 

The current regulations require coaches to receive extra training in brain injuries, dictate when athletes can return to the field after a head injury and require parents to read an informational sheet and sign an affidavit saying they’ve read it, according to WBALTV. 

The Sun reports that the new requirements will remain in effect for 180 days, during which time the board will look further into the issue. 

Do you think high schools need to be stricter when it comes to regulating contact sport injuries? What types of requirements do you think should be in place? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

carl abraham August 03, 2012 at 01:41 PM
There is a proven method in reducing the severity of head injuries and concussions in cotact sports such as soccer soccer. All of the information and documentation can be found at www.forcefieldheadbands.com
Greg Cohen August 03, 2012 at 03:17 PM
It varies for each sport, but I think it's extremely difficult to manage for public schools as most teams don't have a certified athletic trainer or medical assistant. Too many times I've seen kids or coaches call on someone's dad who's a doctor to make a judgment call during a game.
Janis August 09, 2012 at 04:36 PM
@ Greg - Take a walk over to Fairfax County where they have Athletic Trainers. They have had them since 1993! Don't judge "public schools" buy Maryland, there are much better programs in other jurisdictions.
Joe Robinson August 09, 2012 at 04:53 PM
It does vary by sport. Football - they definitely need to regulate it in the schools and at all levels both in school and on club teams. They should do the same for soccer at the HS level. At the HS level, they should have trainers. My oldest had a trainer at St. Mary's and South River is getting a trainer this year.. Once the kids reach a certain level in soccer, it becomes progressively more physical (girls more than boys in this area). For club soccer, Carl has a very valid point. It becomes increasingly more expensive and you cannot expect the registration fee to cover everything. We pay additional for training. The recent rash of head injuries in soccer were due to bad training and education. 6 girls on the same team in Pennsylvania? They are not being trained properly, they are being trained wrong on how to properly perform a header during a game. Be it from their stance on the field to the actually heading of the ball. Their coach and/or trainer should be removed because he is harming those girls. My children have all been involved in soccer since they were little and in all that time, there has been exactly 1 serious head injury on my daughters WAGS team. It all comes down to education, awareness, and training.


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