General Assembly takes action on concussions, but more needs to be done

Individual and team sports are an integral part of the educational experience. Illinois schools, with help from the General Assembly, are taking action to protect Illinois students from concussion long-term effects while still allowing kids and young adults to play games. A key goal is the reduction of what is now called “second-impact syndrome (SIS),” an event where a healing brain is shocked a second time. SIS events are associated with long-term effects.

School action against concussions and post-concussion effects is governed by SB 7, a 2015 law that created the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act. High schools have to convene a team, made up of persons who have undergone adult education and training, to develop “return-to-play” and “return-to-learn” procedures for students who have suffered concussions of all types – including head injuries not related to sporting events. In addition, adult participants in sporting events must record and report head injuries suffered in their events, and document the care given to the athlete.

Since 2010, 2,029 documented head injuries have been reported at events sanctioned by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). In the great majority of these injuries, the on-site concussion team has excused the student from further play in that game or contest. Participants in sporting events have learned how to document and report athletic head injuries. Smaller schools are concerned because many of the personnel present at their games are not fully certified athletic trainers. Efforts are being made to increase the headcount of athletic trainers in rural Illinois.

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