Concussion bill makes N.C. lawmakers look like boneheads

Talk about brain damage!

A bill was recently introduced in North Carolina that would allow parents to choose whether or not their concussed children may return to games after they’ve been injured.

House Bill 116 actually seeks to improve safety measures for middle and high school student-athletes, yet would add parents and legal guardians to a list of people who have the authority to let children with head injuries return to the playing field.

According to the bill, “The student shall not return to play or practice on a subsequent day until the student is evaluated by and receives written clearance for such participation from the student’s parent or legal guardian,” or a list of other trained professionals including a licensed physician, neuropsychologist, athletic trainer, physician assistant or a nurse.

Introduced in mid-February and sponsored by four Republican state representatives, one of which is Dr. Greg Murphy, HB 116 stipulates parents will be issued a “concussion or head injury information sheet,” as if a piece of paper will be enough for them to properly gauge if their child is healthy enough to return to action.

Why don’t we start passing out scalpels and allowing parents to perform surgeries then? The idea of a parent or guardian having the authority to make medical decisions instead of a doctor is preposterous, dangerous and could ultimately prove deadly.

Tucked within a bill designed, on its surface, to protect children from serious injuries including heat stroke, dehydration and cardiac arrest by spreading awareness about these dangers, giving untrained adults the final say in matters as serious as concussions is, well, a real head scratcher.

It brings to mind the case of James Earl “Boobie” Miles, who you may remember from the movie and book “Friday Night Lights.” Based on a true story, the film contains one of the most uncomfortable scenes in any sports movie when, seeking a big-time college scholarship, Miles was permitted to return to playing football despite suffering a serious, untreated ACL injury. All along, his uncle and legal guardian allowed him to blow off surgery, a decision that eventually ended his career.

A bill in North Carolina would effectively give parents the ability to allow their son or daughter to return to a game following a head injury.

A bill in North Carolina would effectively give parents the ability to allow their son or daughter to return to a game following a head injury.

(Eric Barrow/NY Daily News)

That was just a knee ligament. Imagine what could happen if an overzealous parent — and let’s be honest, amateur sports is teeming with them — pushes a kid with an untreated head injury back onto the field before it’s safe for them to resume contact.

It will have deadly implications.

At least one NFL player has come out against the ridiculous bill. On Monday, Patriots defensive end Chris Long tweeted “Any parent that wants to bypass concussion protocol at the high school level should be banned from games.”

Concussions are complicated. You can’t see them and you can’t put a bandage or a splint on them. Even medical professionals are still learning about the dangers of brain injuries and it’s alarming as more and more former professional athletes, mostly football and hockey players, reveal they are dealing with the horrific effects of years of headbanging.

Sometimes these guys take their own lives and we find out later they were struggling with symptoms connected to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive head trauma. What right-minded parent truly feels confident in being able to diagnose an injury like that?

In 2015, there were seven fatalities during high school and college football games. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina, more than 70% of those deaths were linked to head and brain injuries.

On ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” Rep. Murphy changed course on the bill, saying that allowing parents say on this matter was “inadvertent.”

“The issue is that now there is not an issue,” said Rep. Murphy, who added that he was thankful that his own kids decided not to play football. “It was not taken out when it should have been, and we’re going to remove it hastily. That’s going to be the first thing done when it comes to committee.

“There’s no way parents have the medical knowledge to clear a child.”

That’s great, but how could this prevision been added in the first place?

There isn’t a more important story unfolding in athletics than the effects of brain injuries. The morbid truth is that brain injuries already kill kids every year. Athletes are already in danger of suffering a concussion or worse, while many of these injuries are already left untreated.

The NFL agreed with the lawmakers’ decision to strike the line about parental approval from the bill’s language.

“We have been active proponents the last seven years of country-wide concussion protection laws modeled after the Lystedt law which was first adopted in the state of Washington,” Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of health and safety policy said, referring to legislation named after Zack Lystedt, who suffered a debilitating brain injury in 2006.

“Among the components of the law that is designed to protect young athletes is that a qualified licensed healthcare professional must clear the athlete to return to practice. Only this medical professional who is trained to diagnose and evaluate concussions should provide that clearance.”

Patriots defensive end Chris Long panned the proposed North Carolina legislation.

Patriots defensive end Chris Long panned the proposed North Carolina legislation.

(Julio Cortez/AP)

According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine, 70% of high school athletes return to action after suffering a concussion, many of which are not even reported. These children are vulnerable to what’s known as “second impact syndrome,” or suffering a concussion on top of an untreated, existing brain injury, which carries a 50% mortality rate. This simply means that if you go back into a game before your brain has a chance to heal, your chances of getting another concussion are much greater.

And there’s a good chance a second hit to the head could kill you.

So why the hell someone would even consider to take that life-and-death decision out of a doctor’s hands and give it to someone whose only medical training comes from a ditto circulated by the school district?

Rather than being a stand-alone issue, HB 116 is emblematic of an epidemic sweeping through American culture in which some choose to ignore science and medical facts simply because they either do not agree with or believe them. Look no further than years of scientific evidence of global warming. Look no further than the White House, which chronically dismisses news it does not agree with as being fake.

So now a couple of North Carolina politicians thought it was a good idea to put the health and safety of kids into the hands of the untrained, whose only qualifications are that they are the parents of amateur athletes.

Not only is that amateurish, but it is dangerous and deadly.

“Please spread the word, we’re going to do the right thing,” said Rep. Murphy, ending his segment on OTL.

Let’s hope they do.

Send a Letter to the Editor

Join the Conversation:
facebook
Tweet

Source: Ny Daily News

Leave a Reply

*