Concussion

  • Background

Concussion Awareness Act is Law in Nebraska

Concussion is one of the most common sports injuries among youths. Concussions may occur in any sport, not just football, known for physical contact. Concussion is synonymous with brain injury and can range anywhere from mild to severe.

Secondary impact syndrome, a second concussion occurring before symptoms of a prior concussion have resolved, can result in catastrophic brain damage or even death. Young people are especially vulnerable to concussion and secondary impact syndrome. Secondary impact syndrome is avoidable with the implementation of a no-tolerance policy for youth athletes playing with suspected concussion.

On July 1, 2012, the Concussion Awareness Act became law. All public, private, and parochial schools, as well as all organized youth sports sponsored by villages, cities, businesses, or non-profit organizations for children ages 19 and under, are required to offer training regarding concussions to coaches. Under the law, an athlete showing signs or symptoms of a concussion, thereby being “reasonably suspected” of having had a concussion, must be removed from participation and may not return until evaluated by a licensed health care professional. See "When can the athlete return to play?"  below. The law passed by the Nebraska State Legislature has three requirements:

  1. Education: All coaches, youth athletes, and their parent or guardian must be provided with education about the risks and symptoms of concussion and how to seek proper medical attention.

  2. Removal from Play: Under any reasonable suspicion of concussion, coaches will remove youth athletes from play.

  3. Return to Play: Youth athletes will not be allowed to return to play including games, scrimmages, and practices of any kind, until written approval from an appropriate licensed healthcare professional AND the youth's parent or guardian is obtained. Licensed healthcare professional may be a physician, physician's assistant, nurse practitioner nurse, athletic trainer, neuropsychologist, or any licensed healthcare worker in Nebraska who is specifically trained in pediatric traumatic brain injury.

The Nebraska Concussion Awareness Act was amended in 2014 to include help for the student returning to school after a concussion. Effective July 2014, this new component established the requirement for a Return to Learn protocol for the student who has sustained a concussion.

The Nebraska Concussion Awareness Act Return to Learn protocol recognizes that a student who has sustained a concussion and returned to school may need special attention and assistance until the student is fully recovered.

Questions Regarding the Concussion Awareness Act

  • Why is this bill necessary?
    Youth athletes’ recovery times for sports concussion are longer than for college athletes’. Young athletes who sustain a concussion are three times more likely to sustain a second concussion. Lack of proper diagnosis and management of a concussion may result in serious long-term consequences, or risk of coma or death.

  • Who is covered by the new law?
    Students in approved or accredited public, private, denominational or parochial schools (Colleges and universities are not covered in the law).

    Athletes 19 years of age or younger that participate in organized sports (any city, village, business or nonprofit that organizes sports, charges a fee or is sponsored by a business or nonprofit organization).

  • When did this law become operative? July 1, 2012

  • When should an athlete be removed from play?
    When they are reasonably suspected of having a concussion by a coach or licensed healthcare professional who is professionally affiliated with or contracted by the school.

    Such athlete shall not be permitted to participate in any supervised team athletic activities until cleared.

    Notification of the parent or guardian of the date and approximate time of the injury and the signs and symptoms of a concussion that were observed and any action taken to treat the athlete.

  • When can the athlete return to play?
    When he or she has been evaluated by a licensed health care professional (LHC) and received written clearance from the LHC professional. Along with the signed clearance form to resume participation from the health professional, the written permission from the athlete’s parent or guardian must be returned to the school.

  • Who can clear an athlete?
    A licensed healthcare professional: physician or licensed practitioner under the direct supervision of a physician, a certified athletic trainer, a neuropsychologist; or

    Some other qualified individual who (a) is registered, licensed, certified or otherwise statutorily recognized by the state of Nebraska to provide health care services and (b) is trained in the evaluation and management of traumatic brain injuries among a pediatric population.

  • What do schools and sports organizations need to do?
    Make available training approved by the Chief Medical Officer to all coaches. Concussion Approved Training Courses
    These training courses have been approved by the Chief Medical Officer of the State of Nebraska. The courses listed are free and available on-line.

  • Who keeps record of the clearance and permission?
    That is up to the school and sports organization.

  • What does this mean to liability?
    Nothing in the Concussion Awareness Act shall be construed to create liability for or modify the liability or immunity of a school, school district, city, village, business or non profit.

  • Where is Coach's training and information available?
    See Coaches Concussion Training Resources link at left.

  • Where is the training and information for Parents and Kids available?
    See the links What Parents Need to Know and Getting Back to School After a Brain Injury at left.

Survey Regarding Implementation of Nebraska's Concussion Law

In 2012, the Nebraska State Legislature enacted the Concussion Awareness Act in 2012 in an attempt to reduce the long-lasting consequences of second-impact concussions.

In 2013 and 2015, a survey of high school head coaches, athletic directors and youth athletes in a medical facility for concussion was conducted. These surveys indicate that while there is increased awareness, there is still lack of knowledge of the seriousness of concussions and there are many youth athletes still playing at risk due to the lack of appropriate concussion management by coaches, schools, parents and medical professionals.

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