Youth Sports


How California Laws Raise Awareness of Concussion in Student Athletes

Among boys who play sports, football players have the highest rate of concussions. (Jane Meredith Adams/EdSource Today)

Football has the highest incidence of concussion among boy athletes. (Jane Meredith Adams/EdSource Today)

By Jane Adams, EdSource Today

As the high school football season winds to a close and players prepare to put their helmets away, athletic officials are hoping that a new law requiring coaches to be trained to spot concussions in players has made the high-contact game — and all youth sports — safer.

The California law, which went into effect in January, is one of a slew of laws and initiatives across the nation intended to address under-reporting and under-treating of youth concussions, a brain injury usually caused by a blow to the head.

For girls, soccer has the highest concussion rate.
The law mandates that high school coaches be trained to identify and respond to the symptoms of concussion, which include dizziness, nausea, headache and light-sensitivity. While many symptoms appear to resolve quickly, the injuries have been associated with complicated and even dire outcomes in youth.

In August, Tyler Lewellen, a 16-year-old defensive safety at Arlington High School in Riverside, collapsed after a tackle and later died following surgery to relieve swelling on the brain. The coroner has not yet released the official cause of death.

Junior Lamont Reed, 16, who plays fullback at Oakland Technical High School, recalled a helmet-to-helmet tackle in the first game of the 2012 season that left him so disoriented he asked a teammate, “Did I play yet?” Continue reading