Concussion Legislation in Florida *

15 Jun

The trend this year is for politicians to get into the concussion frenzy and do what politicians do – pass laws.  While many feel that this is a good thing, athletic trainers must be aware of passing poorly written legislation. 

In an effort to ensure its member schools treat athletes who have suffered concussions properly, the Florida High School Athletic Association adopted a Concussion Action Plan at Tuesday’s board of directors meeting in Gainesville.

The plan requires that any athlete who exhibits signs of a concussion be immediately removed from a game or practice and not return until cleared by an health care professional.

It also calls for game officials to be aware of athletes who display concussion symptoms and immediately stop play for an injury evaluation. If available, a certified athletic trainer can assist with a sideline evaluation of the player.

An athlete diagnosed with a concussion is not permitted to return to play without written clearance from a physician.

As an AT, I am concerned about the wording in this policy and many other states’ legislation specifically “cleared by a health care professional”.  Many health care professions do not have any training in concussion management or  treatment.   The issue then becomes who decides who is a qualified health care provider?

Are EMTs, CNAs, DCs, PTs, PTAs, et al all qualified to care for concussions?  Are all MDs, DOs and ATCs qualified to recognize and manage concussions?  The key word is all.  I would have to say no to the first question and most likely to the second question.

Concussions are a major concern in the United States now.  With high profile deaths and suicides of professional athletes with several documented concussions, public interest in the problem is at an all time high.  Passing legislation in effort to properly recognize and manage concussions is a noble cause, but caution must be taken to ensure the legislation will do what is supposed to do – get concussed athletes the proper care they need.  In my opinion, the ONLY health care providers who should be  mentioned in this legislation should be MD/DOs and ATs.  And since ATs and team physicians work so closely together in most cases, leaving the AT out of the legislation wouldn’t change much anyway.

What do you think?  Leave your comments below!

Full Article

* Writer’s Note: There is a big difference between legislation and a state high school athletic association or NCAA policy.  Legislation is law and once it is on the books there can be criminal or monetary punishment doled out to violators.  NCAA/state association policy is really a guideline with little legal basis or punishment.  The linked and reviewed article from Florida is a policy and not legislation.  Many states are in the process or have already passed legislation in the treatment of concussions and many that I have read leave the door wide open to unqualifed health care providers treating concussed athletes.  These laws may actually make the concussion problem worse and not improve the treatment of concussions in the real world!

One Response to “Concussion Legislation in Florida *”

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  1. Why do we need to promote the profession? « promotetheprofession - June 16, 2011

    […] promotetheprofession A Blog For Athletic Training by an Athletic Trainer « Concussion Legislation in Florida * […]

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