The United States House Judiciary Committee meets on 01 February 2010 to examine youth sports concussions. Approximately 1.2 million teenagers play organized high school football in the US with another three million participants under the age of 15.
According to Dawn Comstock of Ohio State University, youth football players sustain about 140,000 concussions per year. It was reported that an alarming 15.8% of these players sustaining a concussion severe enough to lose consciousness returned to play the same day and that as many as 40% of them return to the field sooner than modern medical guidelines would suggest. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 3.9 million sports-related and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States annually.
Washington State passed the first concussion-specific law (House Bill 1824) covering scholastic sports last year. The statute requires that a youth athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury must be removed from the practice or game. The maxim in play now is “when in doubt, sit them out.” The athlete cannot return to play until they have been evaluated by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions and received written clearance to play.
The law – named after Zackery Lystedt, a teenager who in 2006 sustained a serious brain injury playing football – is a template for the dozens of other states considering similar legislation.
The law also directs school districts to require a statement of compliance vis-à-vis policies for the management of head injuries and concussion from youth sports programs using school facilities in order for the district to remain immune for injuries which occur during the delivery of services of the youth program on school property.
The Lystedt family settled a claim on behalf of Zackery against the Tahoma School District for $14.6 million in September 2009. The school district did not admit liability.