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State concussion law improves safety for area youth athletes

Friday, June 1, 2012

State Law Act 172, referred to as the Sideline to Safety Law, was designed to ensure proper care to youth athletes and will influence how coaches and parents treat concussions that occur in school athletics and recreational leagues.

ImPACT concussion screening softwareThe law requires all youth athletic organizations to educate coaches, athletes and parents about the risks of concussions and head injuries. An additional requirement prohibits participation in a youth athletic activity until the athlete and parent/guardian has returned a signed agreement indicating they have reviewed and understand the concussion and head injury informational materials provided to them.

High school athletes today are four-times more likely to sustain a concussion than a decade ago. The highest incidence is in football, where an athlete is twice as susceptible as one in any other scholastic sport. Concussion prevention goes beyond football, however, as all high-school and youth contact sports put athletes at risk. At least one-in-ten will sustain a concussion during the fall sports season. One moment, one practice, one play can turn into days, weeks, even months of issues with concussion symptoms and after-effects.

The sports medicine experts at Fort HealthCare Therapy & Sport Center warn athletes, parents, coaches, administrators and medical professionals that they should be aware of the dangers surrounding, such brain injuries, and returning to play too soon. Although it is impossible to completely eliminate concussions, their extent can be limited through proper awareness and medical management. With better understanding of the long-term effects of concussions, it has become more apparent that there is a need for increased regulation in youth athletics.

Fort HealthCare’s Therapy & Sport Center is the only credentialed ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) provider in the area. ImPACT is a computerized neurocognitive assessment tool used to determine an athlete’s readiness to return to play after a concussion. Widely used by collegiate and professional sports teams, it is the most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system.

Prior to a concussion, a baseline screening establishes an individual’s normal ImPACT score. Should a concussion occur, the test can be re-administered to assist healthcare providers in making a return-to-play decision. Athletes, coaches, administrators, medical professionals and parents should be aware of the risks of concussion injuries along with the dangers of injured athletes returning to play too soon, warn the concussion experts who oversee ImPACT.

All licensed athletic trainers at Fort HealthCare Therapy & Sport Center are trained in concussion management through attendance at ImPACT workshops.

If your organization is interested in ImPACT screening, presentations about concussions or any sports medicine related topic, please contact Tara Zachgo at (920) 568-6523. Fort HealthCare offers group rates for organizations requesting baseline ImPACT testing. Learn more at

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