Austin attorneys Brooks Schuelke of Perlmutter & Schuelke and Leonard B. Gabbay were recently quoted in a publication that examines legal issues around concussions in the sports world – Concussion Litigation Reporter (http://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/).
The article examined H.B. 2038, a recently passed Texas law that, among other things, requires school districts to provide coaches and trainers with extensive concussion recognition and treatment training as well as a requirement that a concussion team be on standby if student-athletes are to compete. Finally, the law mandates that school boards designate a concussion management team, made up of licensed health care providers, to be in charge of determining the “return to play” procedure for students who have suffered a concussion.
Schuelke noted that the key is getting buy-in from coaches and administrators.
“If they give lip service to protecting student-athletes, the law won’t help,” he said. “But if coaches and administrators make a commitment to protecting athletes then we might see injuries decrease.”
Gabbay added that head injuries are not being taken seriously enough.
“Most people think that the only people that have long term head injury are those that get hit time and time again,” Gabbay said. “Any law that goes into effect and that will do any good for the public must involve the medical profession acknowledging that it does not take repeated hits or repeated head injury before a concussion must be treated.”
Schuelke added that another line of defense is parents.
“Parents can help protect their children in a couple of ways,” he noted. “First, make sure that the kids have proper equipment. In football, for instance, the right helmet can make a difference in protection of the children.
“Second, be aware. Doctors don’t usually know patients well and may have a difficult time seeing differences in patients, making it difficult to diagnose some head injuries. But parents paying attention can tell differences in their kids. Alerting doctors to those differences can help doctors diagnose problems.”