Protect Student Athletes from Serious Brain Injury

by Michelle Lee on February 25, 2014

The danger of repeat concussions has been moved to the forefront of discussion involving athletes and injuries and while more schools across the United States are taking a stance against play after concussion students are always removed from the game.

In April of 2013 47 states had enacted youth concussion laws that generally require students suspected of sustaining a concussion to be removed from play until the injury has been ruled out or a medical professional has cleared the student to return to play.

There isn’t a punishment in place for coaches or officials who fail to follow youth concussion laws, and it’s really based on an honor system.

Youth concussion laws aren’t foolproof

There are a number of reasons some students continue to play even after having sustained a head injury or concussion. Sometimes parents can be a huge barrier to removing students from the game—especially when a potential scholarship hinges on play. Parents have balked at their child being removed saying the student needs to play for the scouts or visiting coaches.

Educating parents and student athletes on the very real dangers associated with continued play with a concussion has been extremely instrumental in getting parents, the player and coaches on the same page.

Some students who have remained in play after an initial concussion have received a second injury and in some cases the second impact has resulted in brain damage or even death.

Although students and coaches have been instructed on how to identify a head injury by its symptoms students also know if they want to they can lie to a coach or duck questions about how they feel if they want to remain in play.

If a coach sees a student hit their head, but doesn’t notice visible signs of a concussion they may ask a question like, “are you okay?” The student is then the one who determines whether they will stay in play or not based on their response.

Increasingly coaches aren’t taking any chances

Despite the increased knowledge and education on head injuries, many athletes still believe it’s safe for them to return to play even if they’re experiencing symptoms from a concussion.

In football especially awareness is on the rise, but in other sports, like women’s soccer ongoing education is still essential.

Without physical signs of a concussion it can be difficult for a coach to determine if a head injury was sustained, but more frequently coaches are pulling player they suspect of receiving an injury just to be safe.

Recent headlines have shown taking a risk and allowing a student to play and not notifying parents can result in tremendous damages.

A California school is being sued for general negligence, personal injury and property damage stemming from a 2011 injury because parents weren’t informed of their child’s concussion.

A second California school is also facing a lawsuit after a water polo coach failed to remove a student from practice after she was hit in the head, became unconscious and even slipped under the water for a moment before resurfacing.

Although tremendous steps have been taken in the past few years to protect athletes, many kids are still slipping through the cracks. Risking a brain injury for the sake of a team, season or scholarship isn’t worth it for the student and risking a lawsuit isn’t worth the risk for schools and coaches. If you suspect your school isn’t being diligent in protecting student athletes don’t hesitate to speak to a lawyer to protect the youth in your community.


Author’s bio: Michelle Lee is a student intern working with Maggiano Law. Michelle, a New Jersey native plans to become an attorney. In her free time Michelle volunteers for a local animal shelter and indulges in her guilty pleasure–James Patterson novels.


Michelle Lee
Michelle Lee is a student intern working with Maggiano Law. Michelle, a New Jersey native plans to become an attorney. In her free time Michelle volunteers for a local animal shelter and indulges in her guilty pleasure--James Patterson novels.
Michelle Lee

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