AAJ just released its report Concussions and the Courthouse, chronicling decades of concussion incidents in sports and the corresponding research on the cognitive effects of repeated brain trauma. Their press release begins:
Professional and amateur sports leagues have finally begun to make key changes to protect players against traumatic brain injuries, largely as a result of major litigation against the National Football League (NFL) and other organizations, according to a new report by the American Association for Justice (AAJ). The civil justice system, through a small number of lawsuits, has driven a radical change in the health care approach to professional and student athletes. The report comes just days before the theatrical release of the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist who first discovered a specific form of brain disease in former NFL players.
Each state has its own set of laws on concussions in youth sports. In 2010, only 10 states had laws addressing traumatic brain injuries in youth sports. However, since we in Washington state enacted the Zackery Lystedt law in 2009, all states and D.C. have enacted similar laws. As such, the report examines these laws and calls on all states to pass laws to require that:
- Students who may have suffered a concussion be cleared by a health professional that is either a licensed physician, or someone trained specifically in Traumatic Brain Injury management;
- Parents of students who have suffered a concussion are notified; and
- Medical trainers be present at all games involving collision sports.
If you haven’t been following the recent news about concussions in sports, the NFL brain bank reports 87 out of 91 examined former players have tested positive for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).