In my last blog, “14 Signs of a Concussion and Why Youth Baseball Needs Guidelines”, I introduced you to Johnny and the dilemma faced by his coach. Johnny, the shortstop, had suffered a collision with a teammate in a playoff game and was showing signs and symptoms of a concussion.but both Johnny and his dad insisted he was okay and could stay in the game. Only if your Little League Organization has specific and clear rules in place to address this situation can Johnny be protected from the dangers of Second Impact Syndrome which could jeopardize Johnny’s life.
Here are simple and clear rules to help a coach avoid discretion in the Johnny scenario:
Rule 1: If a child suffers a forceful bump, blow or jolt to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head and he shows signs or symptoms of a concussion, he must be removed from play.
Rule 2: Once a child is removed from play, he/she cannot return to play until cleared by a health care professional.
Pennsylvania law imposes these rules upon public schools for its student athletes. The National Little League organization imposes no rules regarding concussions and return to play, but instead encourages each individual organization to follow the guidelines and rules of their State laws.
Each youth sports organization in Pennsylvania should have at least the following steps in place to assure concussion safety.
- Educate coaches and managers about the signs and symptoms of concussion and the danger of Second Impact Syndrome.
- Publish the rules set forth above so that parents/guardians are aware of the rules that coaches must follow.
- Encourage parents/guardians to obtain a baseline test (ImPAct) of their child’s cognitive functioning. This baseline test, obtained before a head injury, can help guide health care professionals to determine when it is safe to return the child to play.
In my next blog, I will discuss in more detail the importance of getting a baseline test, how you can get a baseline test, and some tools available to parents/guardians to help your child recover from a concussion.
Tony Baratta is a trial attorney in Huntingdon Valley, PA who represents clients who have been seriously injured. He has coached all three of his sons in Northampton Little League Baseball and is currently on the board of Northampton Little League Baseball as its safety director. Tony Baratta is the founding partner at Baratta, Russell & Baratta and a member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BIAPA).