Education leaders in Maryland have formed a group to study whether the state can do more to reduce concussions and head-related personal injury in young athletes.
The action by the state school board comes as the National Football League and other organizations are working to try to curb brain injuries suffered by participants following repeated concussions.
Already, Maryland has taken some actions. Last year, legislators passed a law requiring that coaches watch a training video on the subject. The law also requires coaches to notify parents in writing if a young athlete could have suffered a concussion and also recommended that coaches remove players from games or practice if they detect signs of a concussion. In that instance, players would need to be medically cleared before they can play again.
Some parents have asked the state school board to take an even closer look at concussions. One parent, from Montgomery County, Maryland, said his son suffered a concussion as a member of his high school football team. He said he hoped the newly formed group also would consider requiring parents to have training to recognize concussion symptoms.
While Maryland does not keep statistics on how many students sustain sports-related concussions, an adjacent state does. The parent said that by using that state’s calculation methods, Maryland student-athletes could suffer as many as 6,000 concussions a year.
With the start of the high school football season in August, the parent said it was imperative that Maryland look to adopt rules on contact during practices. Currently, Maryland high school students can have up to 10 practices per week with contact. The National Football League, by contrast, allows about one contact practice each week, and the collegiate Ivy League permits two in that time span.
The limits are aimed at lessening the chances for a player to take a hit that could cause a concussion. Multiple hits also can result in what are called subconcussive injuries that can create long-term issues even if they don’t have immediate symptoms.