In March of 2011, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed into law new guidelines concerning concussions. Doctors and parents are thrilled there is now a state wide universal comprehensive set of rules to deal with this serious issue. Nancy Naeve Brown went to the O'Gorman campus in Sioux Falls to see how football practice is impacted.
O'Gorman Junior High 7th grader Brandon Ching and his teammates are getting practice on proper tackling techniques from their football coaches. Those coaches are also making sure that in the process, no one knocks their noggin to the point of concussion and if they do, their playing days are numbered. He will have to stay on the sidelines until a doctor says his brain has healed. It is part of new concussion legislation signed into law by Governor Daugaard in March.
Pediatrician Dr. Sam Schimelpfenig with Avera McGreevy Clinic says, "The legislation is really geared at education. The parents, coaches, and athletes are all being educated about what concussions are and why we worry about them. It also makes it clear that is someone is suspected of concussion during a game they are pulled out of the game."
As a parent Dan Ching (Brandon's dad) says it's hard not to worry about your children getting hurt, especially since he knows the chances of that happening are greater in high impact sports like hockey and football.
Dan says, "The game can be very physical. The kids are out there to make a play and obviously things happen very fast on the field and so can injuries."
Pediatrician Dr. Sam Schimelpfenig at the main Avera McGreevy Clinic is happy to see this law go into effect because too many hurt kids go back in to the game too soon.
Dr. Schimelpfenig says, "Young athletes can suffer Second Impact Syndrome if they get a second concussion while still symptomatic from the first one. That second impact, even if it's milder from the first one, can have serious consequences for the brain."
That's exactly what worries Dad Dan.
Dan says, "It concerns me that at a young age he could sustain a lifelong injury."
As a 7th grader this is Brandon's first year of playing football. Don't think he was thrilled about it.
Dan Ching says, "Anything earlier than that seems pretty young. We didn't want him to have injuries before that, not saying that he will.
But if he does the trainers, the coaches and the parents will all be on the same page of the concussion play book which takes the player out of play for as long as necessary for them.
He O'Gorman coaches call parents immediately if their child gets hurt in anyway during practice or in a game to keep everyone informed.
South Dakota Concussion Law:
South Dakota's concussion legislation was signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard on March 17, 2011.
The law requires:
·South Dakota High School Activities Association and the State Education department to develop guidelines to educate coaches, athletes and parents regarding the nature and risk of concussion
·Parents and athletes must sign a concussion information sheet annually
·Coaches in all sports sanctioned by the High School Activities Association complete an annual training program
·Any athlete suspected of having sustained a concussion be removed from participation
·Athletes need to obtain written medical authorization before returning to play