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Reported concussions among New Jersey student athletes rising

New Jersey student athletes often have suffered from head injuries or concussions but have continued participating in the athletic event. Though concussions and head trauma have always occurred in athletic events, concussions are beginning to now be recognized as dangerous injuries. The number of concussions reported has gone up, but this probably is not because the actual number of concussions has risen. Coaches and parents are now recognizing that such a condition requires treatment and increased caution, and are now more frequently bringing such youth in for medical treatment.

Bicycling is one of the top sports related activities that have led to head injuries or concussions. Parents and coaches must insist upon the young athletes wearing helmets when participating in this activity. Likewise, safety must be emphasized to the students by the school districts to insure that the risk of head injury is greatly reduced.

Since the seriousness of head injuries is a relatively new area of study, it is possible that not all coaches take such injuries seriously. It's unacceptable when a student suffers multiple concussions while still in high school. We want to keep our student athletes safe. Coaches and school districts that put a student at risk by having them continually participate in an event after a head injury are not abiding by safety protocol or common sense. Such school districts must be held accountable. Unfortunately, sometimes only the threat of litigation after an injury has already occurred will force school districts to implement further safety policies.

The state of New Jersey is now taking head injuries and concussions seriously as well. Under New Jersey policy, students now taken out of a sporting event may not return until a doctor who specializes in these types of conditions gives the athlete permission to participate. In New Jersey schools, an athlete suffering from a concussion must sit out at least 12-days after the injury. Hopefully, all New Jersey school districts are abiding by such policies.

Source: New, "The Record: Head smart," Oct. 10, 2011

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