After Noah Brahm suffered a concussion while playing defensive end on Northwestern High School’s junior varsity football team last September, trainer Michael Berger recommended he visit Dr. Daniel Kraft at Community Howard Regional Health.
Kraft helped write state legislation aimed at protecting high school athletes from brain injury. The law took effect in 2012 — none too soon for the doctor — and the Indiana Senate wants to improve upon what it started in 2011.
In a story we published last November, Kraft said he had seen a 20 percent increase in patients with concussions in just five years.
“The biggest change over the past 10 years for us is to understand how significant concussions are and how it impacts our kids,” he said. “... The biggest danger of concussion is having an injury on top of one that has not healed completely. When that occurs, your chances of long-term issues goes up.”
Today, all Indiana schools must monitor concussions suffered by athletes competing in football, as well as every other sport. The Senate enrolled act with which Kraft assisted requires:
• Information be given to coaches, athletes and parents concerning the nature of concussions and health risks of continued participation after suffering such an injury.
• Athletes and parents give signed consent to participate in a sport, knowing concussions are possible.
• Coaches and officials remove an athlete suspected of suffering a concussion from practice and competition. Athletes must get written clearance from a health care provider before continuing participation in their sport.
A new bill that passed the Senate recently would require:
• A 24-hour wait period for every athlete removed from play due to concussion-like symptoms before he or she can return to action.
• All football coaches and their assistants complete an education course every two years on concussions and other health issues, and pass a test to demonstrate understanding of the instruction material.
Coaches should welcome this legislation. The best way to avoid serious consequences is for athletes, parents and coaches to take these injuries seriously. Indiana lawmakers want to ensure they continue to do so.