A new research study and a new defense by soccer organizations in the #TheFIFA5 lawsuit seem to confirm a citywide concussion plan maybe a very effective way to make sports safer for kids and lower liability for teams and city alike.

Highlights

  • ALL FOR ONE: Norwalk, CT successfully launches new citywide concussion plan for all youth sports
  • CONCUSSION LAWS WORK: Dr. Trojian published new study showing the positive effect of The Connecticut State Concussion Law
  • WE DON’T OWN THE FIELDS: Fifa and national soccer organizations’ new excuse to avoid taking a stand on youth concussion

All For One (City)

On April 15, 2015, Norwalk, CT became the first municipality in the country to enact a citywide Youth Concussion Plan governing all sports teams who use city and school fields/gyms. The plan was unanimously approved by the city council and the Norwalk Concussion Guidelines took effect on April 15, 2015, covering the over 6,000 youth players and 800 coaches who were not covered by the state’s concussion law due to a legal loophole. Based on the SportsCAPP model, I proposed the citywide plan to help youth sports teams to address concussions in young athletes and try to reduce liability exposure for coaches and the city.

As of end of April, all spring-season sports have successful trained their volunteer coaches using the online CDC training course. The Norwalk sports teams have almost unanimously responded with support, before and after the city vote, as they saw the potential benefits of increased safety and lowered liability . A few teams had fears of increased administrative work but were able to meet the deadline with less effort than they thought.

And this week at opening day and first team meetings, parents are given CDC fact sheets and/or emailed links to engaging, cartoon videos to educate the video-centric youth players. Parents and team managers alike have been pleased with the program so far as the first phase of implementation draws to a close.

Now as the season starts, coaches will be required to pull any athlete suspected of a possible concussion, notify parents, and only allow the athlete to RTP with a doctor’s note. The teams are also required to report any suspected concussions to parks and rec using the CRR a free concussion app or an paper form I created (to use until CRR hopefully creates a paper version).

Preparations are being made to hold a citywide medical training in July for all providers to update their practices in concussion evaluation and management because I expect more young athletes will seek medical care for possible concussions.

Concussion Laws Work

A new study shows that concussion laws do seemed to increase the number of athletes who seek medical care for their concussions. Dr. Thomas Trojian of Drexel University College of Medicine was lead author of a new study that showed a sharp increase in the number of youth athlete receiving medical treatment for sports-related concussions after CT concussion laws were passed in 2010. The findings are published in Springer’s journal Injury Epidemiology:

Dr. Trojian and his team’s study is among the first to investigate whether such a state law has had an effect on the medical system. They analyzed the emergency room records of two major trauma centres in Connecticut. A marked increase in the frequency of high school students being treated for sports-related concussions was found. This went up from 2.5 visits per month prior to the law being passed, to almost six per month thereafter. This suggests that the state’s sports-related concussion law has helped to improve the evaluation and detection of such injuries among high school students, by increasing obligatory emergency room visits.

Source: Trojian, T. et al (2015). The Effects of a State Concussion Law on the Frequency of Sport-Related Concussions as Seen in Two Emergency Departments, Injury Epidemiology . DOI 10.1186/s40621-015-0034-7

“We Don’t Own the Soccer Fields”

FIFA and US National Soccer Organizations’ newest excuse to abandon responsibility is they do “n0t own the soccer fields.”  This is the latest development in the second round of #TheFIFA5 Lawsuit that pits three mothers and two female college students vs FIFA, soccer’s worldwide governing body—the Fèdèration Internationale de Football Association, soccer’s worldwide governing body and affiliated soccer organizations in the United States – US Soccer, US Club Soccer USCS, American Youth Soccer Organization AYSO, and California Youth Soccer Association, Inc, in the class action lawsuit filed on August 27, 2014. 

A second round of paperwork by FIFA and the US national soccer organizations adds a new twist to the “Concussions are not our problem” argument by arguing they don’t own the soccer fields to the other claims of no direct contact with players thus they have no influence over concussion policy.

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For more on this, read “Excuse #5: We Don’t Own the Soccer Fields”

This continued “not our responsibility” approach by soccer will do more to scare the volunteer coaches away from working with kids than asking them to do 20 min online CDC training course as Norwalk has so successfully done.

Summary

Norwalk’s City Concussion Plan has addressed concussion education and policy by using their ownership of the sports fields and gyms for the greater good of youth sports. Unfortunately, FIFA, US Soccer, US Club Soccer USCS, American Youth Soccer Organization AYSO, and California Youth Soccer Association, Inc, seem to believe they are powerless and blameless over a simple policy change which would make the beautiful game safer for all.

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