The writing is on the wall.
Literally, it is spelled out in doctors’ notes appearing in millions of patient files, myriad studies from coast to coast, the provisions of laws that have been enacted in New York and every other state, and in so-called “awareness materials” passed out to parents by schools across the country.
Its message is unmistakably clear, and it demands to be read, duly considered and heeded.
The admonition it entails is this: American kids participating in sports activities are at risk of concussions and resulting traumatic brain injuries, and all adults with any interest in their participation need to know that.
Moreover, they need to take reasonable steps to mitigate head-related risks and to take purposeful action immediately in their wake. Failure to act responsibly in that regard can quite rightly be termed negligent behavior and yield adverse legal consequences for coaches, trainers, school administrators and, certainly, physicians in instances when they are reasonably tasked to see yet ignore the symptoms of TBI.
Undeniably, it spells progress that increasingly more people across the nation appreciate that young children are not best served by routinely engaging in hard contact and taking repetitive blows to the head.
Although ramping down much of the “old school” mentality prevalent among many coaches of prior generations is unquestionably a positive development, it is merely a base line for new attitudes and practices that must prevail on American sports fields.
Simply put, it is not enough that violence alone is tamped down at practices (head butts, body collisions, heading the ball and so forth); rather, all adults must duly appreciate that concussions and other head trauma can result from less than “big hits” and pay closer attention to kids who often show symptoms that are muted and manifest themselves only over time.
When the writing is on the aforementioned wall, it is imperative to see it and to take prompt action that eliminates further risks, treats symptoms and comprehensively monitors a child’s health in the wake of a sports-related concussion.