If your child plays school, youth or club sports in Wisconsin you’ve been impacted by Wisconsin Act 172 — though you might not know it.
In recent years, we’ve seen much more attention focused on concussions in children, but this wasn’t always the case. Wisconsin Act 172, passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2012, brought a new era of awareness and prevention of concussions. The law has helped coaches, parents and health professionals understand the potential long-term effects of an untreated concussion and develop plans for keeping kids safe.
As a sports medicine specialist, I am proud to have been able to participate in drafting this law that benefits kids and protects student athletes.
The three main points of the law are:
Here’s why the topic of concussions is important enough to warrant its own law.
A concussion is a brain injury that usually is caused by a direct blow or jolt to the head or face, like a sports injury or a bad fall. Concussions can happen while playing any sport, but especially collision sports like football, soccer, hockey or lacrosse. But concussions can also occur outside organized sports, like when kids are riding bikes or skateboards.
There are many signs and symptoms of a concussion, including:
Headache or pressure in the head
Nausea and vomiting
Balance problems or dizziness
Sensitivity to light and noise
Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy
Confusion, lack of concentration or memory problems
Impaired academic performance
Feeling down or “just not feeling right”
Mood swings, irritability, nervousness or sadness
Having trouble sleeping
While some people think you have to be knocked unconscious to have a concussion, that isn’t true. A person with a concussion will not necessarily have amnesia, or loss of memory, although that can be a side effect.
Also, teens can have a normal CT scan and their pupils may react to light properly by dilating — and they can still have a concussion.
It’s critical that your child seen by a doctor if you suspect a concussion. A pediatric concussion specialist can evaluate your child using a variety of factors to determine if a concussion is present.
The most important thing to do if a concussion is suspected is to immediately remove an athlete from play and have them rest. Brain rest and physical rest are especially important for young people since their brains are still developing.
Physical rest includes
No sports, gym class or physical activity
Activities can resume gradually under the guidance of/with the clearance of a health care professional.
Brain rest includes
Limiting computer and television, but avoiding video games
May include a break from schoolwork or a reduced workload in school
Student athletes must return to their normal level of schoolwork before returning to physical activity.
When concussions are treated properly, not only do athletes heal faster, but they are prevented from suffering another concussion in short succession — which can lead to second impact syndrome and other serious outcomes.
If you have a question about your child and concussions, call our Concussion Line at (414) 337-8000.