Governor Signs New State Concussion Law
Gov. Robert Bentley hosted a signing ceremony for Alabama’s new Concussion Law
Tuesday with AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese, other members of The Alabama Statewide Sports Concussion Taskforce (ASCT), AHSAA Associate Executive Director Joe Evans, and other sponsors present.
The ASCT, chaired by Dr. Joe Ackerson, helped to write and sponsor this important legislation along with State Representative Paul Demarco, State Representative Ron Johnson, State Senator Greg Reed, and Savarese
Dr. Ackerson and the ASCT, part of the Alabama Statewide Head Injury Taskforce, have been working since 2007 to reduce the incidence and morbidity associated with sports-related concussion. It has been estimated that up to 3.8 million sports and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries occur in the United States yearly with the highest rates of emergency department visits for sports concussion occurring among young people from ages 10 to 19. Youth athletes appear to be especially vulnerable to the effects of concussion, including cognitive difficulties such as memory and attention problems.
However, Dr. Ackerson is optimistic that most of the adverse, long-term consequences of concussion can be avoided by proper identification of the injury when it occurs followed by immediate physical and mental rest along with proper medical management.
The new law helps to ensure this happens by requiring all athletic organizations to (1) provide information on sports concussions to all athletic participants and their families, (2) ensure that all coaches have training in the recognition of concussions, and (3) whenever a participant is suspected of having a concussion they must be immediately removed from participation and not allowed to return until they have been cleared by a physician.
Dr. Ackerson points out that the passage of the law is not the end of the ASCT efforts. “We have been working hard for several years to bring together the top experts in our state to address this important issue. Our focus now shifts to helping to educate professionals, the public, schools and other athletic organizations about the law, to help everyone come into compliance, and to continue to build and support statewide capacity to recognize and treat sports-related concussions.”
The AHSAA Coaches Education program has included an online concussion course as a requirement since the beginning of the 2010-11 school year. The AHSAA Concussion Policy requires a medical doctor to clear a student’s return to play and a Concussion Information Form signed by each student and a parent.
The ASCT includes representatives from the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA), the Alabama Department of Rehabilitative Services (ADRS), the Alabama Head Injury Foundation (AHIF), The Alabama Psychological Association, the Alabama Athletic Trainers Association, Hoover High School, The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, The University of West Alabama, the University of South Alabama, and Children’s Hospital of Alabama.
The ASCT has benefitted greatly from the expert medical advice and ongoing involvement of Dr. Jimmy Robinson (University of Alabama team physician), Dr. Michael Ellerbusch (Hoover High School team physician), and Dr. Drew Davis (Children’s Hospital Rehabilitative Medicine) as well the Sports Medicine Clinics of Dr. Marshall Crowther and Drew Ferguson (UAB), Dr. James Andrews (St. Vincent’s), and Dr. Larry Lemak (Trinity Medical Center). Neurosurgical consultation has been provided by Dr. Jay Wellons and Dr. Jim Johnson of Children’s Hospital of Alabama.
All of the information and materials needed to comply with this law can be obtained free of charge at http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/youth.html. For further information please contact Dr. Ackerson at firstname.lastname@example.org.