Reporting Pat Kessler
ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Concussions are a major health concern for young people who play sports. If a student returns to play too soon after suffering a concussion, there are growing concerns that it could cause permanent brain injury, even death. So, Minnesota lawmakers are talking about a concussion law for student athletes.
At a legislative hearing at the Capitol Tuesday, there was a lot of talk about how every concussion is different and must be treated differently. Unlike a broken bone or sprain, you just can’t see them, which is why some say, guidelines need to be put in place.
Sports concussions are one of the leading causes of brain injury for people aged 15 to 24.
“Yeah, I hit right around this area,” said 15-year-old Kayla Meyer showing the back of her head.
Meyer has been playing hockey since she was five years old, but it all came to an end last year after she suffered two concussions. Even then, her coach encouraged her to get back out on the ice.
“All they could say was, ‘Let’s put a helmet on you and skate you through it,’” she said. “And it hurt too much to wear a helmet. And it still does now.”
Meyer testified in support of a bill that would educate coaches, athletes and their parents about the symptoms and treatment of concussions.
“On a day to day basis, I have a headache every second of every minute of every day,” Kayla told the committee.
Introduced by Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), the law would establish return-to-play standards.
“A broken ankle or a sprained wrist would prevent playing, give pain feedback to the athlete themselves, causing them to stop the activity,” said Benson. “Concussions, however, are different.”
Meyer doesn’t want to see another student athlete go through the pain she’s experiencing.
“Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I’m not feeling good. Can I sit out for 10 minutes, coach?’” said Meyer. “‘Maybe after that I’ll see if I feel better to go back on the ice or the field or whatever.”
Meyer said she has great coaches where she played in New Prague, but said they aren’t trained to deal with these injuries, so they made her play. She says the mantra needs to be: When in doubt, sit them out.
At least 13 other states have passed similar concussion laws and reports show that medical costs have been reduced because they’re treating fewer catastrophic and expensive cases.
Joan Gilbertson, Producer