Protecting Young Athletes from Second-Impact Syndrome

  • Jan 25 2017

What is the Concussion Management in Youth Sports Act?

In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2007, the Concussion Management in Youth Sports Act into law. While schools previously had strict rules to protect student athletes who may have suffered head injuries, this law, which became effective in January, extends those rules to youth sports organizations.

The law requires youth sports leagues in the state to have procedures in place to protect young athletes from head and brain injuries. Those who appear to have suffered a concussion must be removed from play immediately and cannot return until they are cleared by a medical professional who is trained in the treatment and management of concussions. In addition to protecting young athletes, the new law is intended to educate coaches, parents and athletes about the risks and symptoms of concussions.

The Perils of Second-Impact Syndrome

One risk that is particularly dangerous is known as second-impact syndrome. This injury occurs when an athlete returns to a sport to soon after first suffering a concussion, and suffers a second blow to the head. Even only a minor hit to the head or chest that causes the head to snap back, and the brain to rebound inside the skull, can causes a second, more dangerous injury.

After an initial concussion, the brain is more prone to more serious damage. If the brain swells, for example,  increased blood volume to the brain can lead to a deadly brain herniation. This involves brain tissue, cerebrospinal  fluid and blood vessels being moved or press away from their usual position in the skull.

Athletes who suffer a second blow to the brain may not initially lose consciousness, but only look stunned. After making it the sideline, the athlete can suddenly collapse. Then, the condition quickly gets worse: loss of consciousness, loss of eye movement, dilated pupils, coma, respiratory failure – often in a matter of minutes. This is a life threatening emergency that requires a rapid response of life-saving measures, including CPR and maintaining an airway.

The Takeaway

In the end, young athletes are more susceptible to brain injuries because their brains are still growing, and there is a higher mortality rate from second-impact syndrome in these athletes. Those who survive may suffer permanent brain damage. While the new law should go a long way preventing second-impact syndrome, young athletes who play football, hockey, soccer and other contact sports are still at a risk of head and brain injuries. If your child was injured while participating in a sport at school or a youth league, you may be entitled to meaningful compensation. The JNY law firm fights for brain injury victims in Northern and Southern California.

Posted in: Brain & Head Injury


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