Concussions and brain safety have become an issue of concern not only for professional athletes, but for kids participating in youth sports. “1.1 million to 1.9 million recreational concussions and sports-related concussions occur annually in the United States in children 18 years of age or younger,” according to a 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics report.
Between 2009-2015 all fifty states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to address traumatic brain injury. The majority of states have enacted legislation targeting youth sports-related concussions. While there has been a great surge in awareness around concussions and concussion protocol, many states are working to provide more comprehensive education to coaches, parents and youth athletes. New Mexico is one of them.
State health officials in New Mexico are proposing additional steps to ensure a greater awareness around concussions and brain injuries as it pertains to youth sports. The latest proposition would require coaches, parents and athletes (age 11 and older) to participate in a mandatory one-hour training session annually. This proposition moves to educate children participating in youth sports so they become more attuned to recognizing the possible symptoms of concussion.
New Mexico State Senator and high school teacher Bill Soules tells the Associated Press, “The idea is that students have an awareness as to what the symptoms are of concussions because sometimes they don’t show up until one or two hours afterward, and the coach is long gone.”
Youth athletes would have to sign off each year after completing their concussion education. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Heads Up curriculum has been suggested as an online curriculum that aims to provide information around concussion symptoms and treatment protocols. New Mexico’s proposal would also mandate a 10-day waiting period after an athlete is diagnosed with a concussion before they could return to their sport, and a signed medical release.
New Mexico is just one of many states taking additional steps to ensure young athletes are protected from brain injuries. As research around the dangers of concussions becomes more available, it’s suspected that more and more legislators will follow suit.