New Study Expose Duty of Care for Athletic Programs Assessing Concussions in Athletes

A new study published in the National Athletic Trainers’ Association  Journal of Athletic Training suggests student athletes who attended high schools with a low availability of athletic trainers are 50 percent more likely to have a sports-related concussion that goes unidentified, unassessed or mismanaged. . .

According to the study, while parents may think they’re taking the necessary precautions to safeguard their children against injury on the playing field, the truth is, if there isn’t a qualified athletic trainer overseeing their student athlete’s care, the child is at significantly higher risk of sustaining a serious injury.

Studies like these only raise the duty of care for Boards of Education, Travel-ball teams, Upward programs, and Recreation leagues. Will you sports program have sufficient personnel and protocols in place to assess and protect student-athletes. If not you can be held responsible for injuries sustained as a result of these inadequate policies?

Remember: in a ruling that could apply to many sports, a federal appeals court says the governing body for water polo in the U.S. can be sued for failing to protect an athlete from serious head injuries by letting her return to play after she suffered a concussion. In this case, a 15-year-old water polo goalie was struck in face by ball, but continued playing in tournament throughout the day despite demonstrating concussion symptoms, taking more shots to the head. She’s diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, has to withdraw from school. The governing board can be sued for negligently failing to implement concussion protocols.

And in a similar case,

The parents of a 17-year-old Oregon high school student have filed a $38 million lawsuit against the Hermiston School District, claiming it failed to properly respond to a concussion their son suffered during a football game and now he has permanent brain damage.

Athletic officials at Hermiston High School didn’t treat Connor Martin or tell his parents about a concussion he suffered in a helmet-to-helmet collision during a September 2016 junior varsity football game, the suit says. The boy was 15 then.

The district’s athletic trainer cleared the teen to play four days later, despite lingering symptoms of concussion, the suit says.

At a game in October 2016, he hit his head repeatedly and suffered injuries that knocked him unconscious, exacerbating the earlier concussion, according to the lawsuit.

Concussions are serious business. They can alter a child and their family’s entire trajectory of life.