In 2012, Florida passed a law aimed at protecting youth athletes from concussions. The bill was introduced in response to the increasing rate of adolescent hospitalizations for sports-related injuries, particularly concussions. Although schools across the state are required to comply with the law’s provisions, injuries still occur at an alarming rate. In fact, it is estimated that around 300,000 head injuries are sustained by high school athletes across the nation every year. Of those injuries, approximately 90 percent are concussions.
The Dangers of Concussions
Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that are usually the result of a sudden blow to the head. For this reason, athletes who participate in football, soccer, hockey, and wrestling are at an especially high risk of sustaining this type of head injury.
Although some concussions are relatively mild and heal after a few days of rest, others can have much more serious consequences, including:
- Slower reaction time;
- Memory loss;
- Mood swings;
- Sleep disturbances;
- Recurring headaches; and
- Sensitivity to light or noise.
If left undiagnosed, many of these symptoms could worsen or become permanent, so parents, guardians, and coaches are directed to keep an eye out for specific symptoms, including complaints of:
- Nausea or vomiting;
- Difficulty with balance;
- Blurry vision; and
- Difficulty concentrating.
These symptoms tend to be especially severe for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 years, whose brains have not finished developing. Failing to give the brain enough time to heal further increases these risks, because once a youth has sustained one concussion, he or she is much more likely to suffer future head injuries.
Florida law prohibits coaches from allowing adolescent athletes, who have suffered a concussion, from returning to a game or practice on the same day of the injury. Instead, they must gradually return to full contact practice by beginning with light to moderate activity, during which they are supervised by an adult. A physician will administer an assessment before an injured player will be allowed to resume play. The test takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and measures verbal memory, visual memory, and processing speed and reaction time. If a youth satisfactorily completes this test, he or she must give the coach a written medical clearance confirming that the athlete does not exhibit the symptoms, signs, or behaviors consistent with a concussion.
Although many schools take great care to ensure that these guidelines are implemented into their sports programs, accidents still can and do occur. Sadly, many of these injuries could have been prevented, but for the negligent oversight of a coach or athletic director. In these cases, an injured child’s parents may be able to collect damages from the negligent parties to cover the cost of medical bills.
Call a Dedicated Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorney Today
If your child was injured while playing a school sport and the coaches or athletic trainers failed to comply with state mandated guidelines or never obtained your informed consent, please contact Boone & Davis at 954-566-9919 today for a free case evaluation. Our Fort Lauderdale attorneys are eager to help you today.