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New Minnesota Concussion Law Signed by Governor Dayton

2011 June 9
by Julie Eibensteiner

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a new bill into law on June 8, 2011 that now requires all coaches to sideline athletes who show signs of a concussion. Those athletes cannot return to the field until they get clearance by a state licensed MEDICAL health care provider. Minnesota now joins 20 states with similar laws taking effect.

-        The law takes effect September 1, 2011

-        This applies to all players under the age of 18 and applies to ALL youth sports organizations both PUBLIC and PRIVATE.

-        The law also requires that parents have access to information on the risks and symptoms of concussions and coaches must have training on concussions once every 3 years.

-        It is unclear what legal ramifications exist for coaches in violation of this law.

Entire text of law can be seen here.

SYMPTOMS

Here is a quick review of concussion symptoms from a comprehensive article on Soccer Head Injuries featured in IMS earlier this year, including how most concussions are likely to happen; heading the ball is not in the top 3.

Confusion, foggy/groggy feeling, sluggish

Dizzy, poor balance

Sensitivity to noise or light, blurry vision

Headache, feeling of pressure

Poor memory: can’t remember what they ate earlier that day, the score of the game, what happened, etc.

Poor coordination and concentration

Nausea /vomiting

Everyone is different and symptoms can be very subtle. Being knocked UNCONSCIOUS is not a requirement and a “ding” can very well result in a concussion, especially for young athletes and athletes who have had previous head injuries.

SIGNS OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY

HEADACHES THAT WORSEN

REPEATED VOMITING

SEVERE NECK PAIN

LOSS OF CONSCIOUSNESS OR UNABLE TO BE AWAKENED EASILY

SEIZURES

INCREASING IRRITABILITY

WEAKNESS / NUMBNESS IN ARMS OR LEGS

UNABLE TO RECOGNIZE FAMILIAR FACES/THINGS

This attention to head injuries is an excellent step in moving the pendulum away from “if you didn’t black out you aren’t injured.” (Read about what I experienced from an ER doctor earlier this year with one of my U18 players.) However…is this going too far? Does this mean excessive doctors’ visits requiring parents to take time off work when not needed? What happens when kids are having concussion-like symptoms that aren’t coming from the head? Many headaches arise from the neck which could come from a collision or simply brought on by poor posture from sitting at school/computer/TV all day. Many medications can mimic concussions symptoms as do heat-related illnesses.

Does the law do enough to protect youth athletes or does it go too far? What are your thoughts?

About the Author: Julie Eibensteiner PT, DPT, CSCS is a physical therapist and owner of Laurus Athletic Rehab and Performance LLC, an independently owned practice specializing in ACL rehab and prevention in competitive athletes. In addition to being a regular contributor to IMS on topics of sport injury and prevention, Eibensteiner holds a USSF A License, coaches a U18G MRL team for Eden Prairie Soccer Club, and assists with the Men’s and Women’s soccer programs at Macalester College.

To view other sports injury and rehab articles by Julie Eibensteiner click here.

11 Responses
  1. June 9, 2011

    I played AAA hockey up until my senior year in high school, back home near Anchorage, Alaska. (Note: We don’t call it AAA. W have A, B, (Competition), and C (House).) I have had a few terrible Concussions. Two of which caused severe headaches, nasuea, and vomiting for a couple of weeks. Then about seven years ago, right before I moved to Alberta, I was snowboarding, when I hit a death cookie. My back was facing downhill, and I flew back and landed head first. I was not wearing a helmet, and that concussion was F***ING SCARY! For two nights I was woken up every forty-five minutes, and I think I puked everything I ever ate.

    My memory is now horrible. If we are talking in person, and you see me struggling for a word that would normally roll of the tongue in conversations between other people, I lose words. If I took another MENSA test now, I am sure my score would be greatly affected.

    I am scared to let my new little one play hockey. Especially in Canada with your small as **** rinks, and with parents completely okay with their kids playing with “grit,” because that is how they will advance.

    To be honest, by the time I was eighteen, I hated hockey, hockey players, fans of hockey, my dad’s expectations, and jocks in general, all thanks to brutal hazings because I was a pastor’s kid. So there is that, but I want to wrap my little boy in bubble wrap and a helmet before he enrolls in a chess league.

  2. tomASS permalink
    June 9, 2011

    Not to diminish the seriousness of these brain injuries and the need to address the problem, but does the government really need to step in and regulate this by a law?

    Shame on us as parents, coaches, and athletic associations that government needs to insert itself in an area of life they should have no business regulating. They have better things to focus their efforts to.

  3. June 9, 2011

    Normally tomASS, you would be right, but If you look at the higher tiers, where the parents and coaches are bats**t crazy, and think their little angel is going to play pro… Yeah I can see a parent to tell their kid to stop whining and to “walk it off.” My parents and coaches downplayed things, and teammates call it whining if you complain about feeling injured or hurt. In house leagues this issue isn’t as common, but if you took a peak at Midget AAA hockey in Canada or high school basketball and football in the southeast states, then you would see a world of pressure almost as messed up as those child beauty pageants.

  4. tomASS permalink
    June 9, 2011

    @ Daniel Blodgett – it still should not require a state or a federal law. This surpasses the role of government.

  5. Soccer Boy permalink
    June 10, 2011

    I have read through this new law several times and I find it vague and confusing. A good first step, but this makes me uncomfortable to coach youth soccer.

  6. uhclem permalink
    June 10, 2011

    In an (arguably) ideal world, people should not require any laws. They should do and be perfect, never violating the “Golden Rule”. They should not kill anyone, nor even ever make any mistakes or take any actions that harm others in any way whatsoever.

    We do not live in an ideal world. We, the people, are not perfect.

    Generally speaking, the purpose of government is to protect it’s people as best it can (for the government is comprised of people who are also imperfect), from excessive hardship that can result in the loss of life, liberty, and fair opportunity, whether that occurs from natural phenomenon, such as earthquakes and the like, or the excesses of people, both foreign or domestic.

    “Shame on us as parents, coaches, and athletic associations that government needs to insert itself in an area of life…”

    Shame on us indeed. Shame on the individuals who speed down residential streets or in school zones at 40 or 50 miles an hour or more. Do you maintain that the government has no right whatsoever to regulate safe speeds that are appropriate to it’s various roads?

    There are numerous laws on the books to protect children from the abuse and/or neglect and/or stupidities visited on them by adults, whether strangers, friends, teachers, relatives or parents. Would you repeal all of them?

    Considering that the “burdens” that will be placed on the coaches and parents of the kids involved is that they will have to educate themselves to a laymens’ level on concussions and deprive the kids involved of minutes or hours playing their sport, while the consequences of this particular abuse and/or neglect and/or stupidity (and sending a child with a concussion out to play IS abuse and/or neglect and/or stupidity) is possible PERMANENT BRAIN DAMAGE, I think the government is well within it’s rights to set safety standards.

  7. EDDoc permalink
    June 10, 2011

    This comment is in reference to the link to your prior blog post on your experience in the Emergency Department (sorry the comment section there has been disabled). Today’s post is excellent and very informative.

    Your previous post, and to some degree today’s post, through the tone of your writing implies that Emergency Physicians either cannot or will not be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion. On the contrary EPs receive 3-4 years of additional training beyond medical school in the care of trauma patients, including those with head injuries. This includes training in trauma surgery, neurology, intensive care units, pediatrics, and in some training centers sports medicine. More often than not the greater part of a discussion with head injured patients (and their parents) deals with why they don’t need immediate imaging (CT=radiation, MRI=$$$) to work up their injury. With reliable observation and follow up the majority of patients can continue their concussion care as outpatients.

    Your experience with an archaic EP is the exception and not the rule and to suggest that EP management of concussions is not reliable does a great disservice to the thousands of EPs that manage head injured patients every day.

  8. June 10, 2011

    ED Doc,

    I’ll let Julie respond to your comment but just an FYI, comments get turned off after 15 days on the site otherwise the fill with spam that has to be managed and the truth is, no one really reads those comments much after the article has gone to the 3rd page of the site.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Brian Quarstad, Editor in Chief IMSoccer News

  9. EDDoc permalink
    June 10, 2011

    I figured that, it looked like the last post got spammed by internet meds, fun times. Congrats on the Taylor Twellman retweet, that’s how I found you blog.

  10. tomASS permalink
    June 10, 2011

    @uhclem – Government builds and maintains the roads – government is responsible for their upkeep and regulations that correspond to their usage.

    The athletic associations should have taken on the responsibility if they are doing their job they were created for and cared enough about the players and parents they represent and take money from

    When did parents abdicate their parental responsibilities and use of common sense to the government?

    I would not repeal child abuse laws. This example does not progress your argument. In fact from what you suggest this idiotic action of letting a kid play before they are ready should already be covered by existing laws.

    Our debate is; you believe in bigger more involved government and I believe in smaller and less intrusive government as proposed in our constitution / bill of rights

    On this we will probably never agree.

  11. June 10, 2011

    @ ER Doc
    I apologize for the confustion in tone. Let me clarify.

    I absolutely 100% believe in the that EP’s are qualified for concussion management. This is in fact why I sought out an EP when my player took the elbow to the head. I wanted to get a physician’s evaluation with the vision issues and asked the trainer on-site who assessed her initially about a sports med based medical center we could go to.

    What was REALLY frustrating was how this particular EP handled the situation and even more frustrated that he was a sports med physician. How is he not on top of this with ALL the concussion info out there? It’s the hot topic in sports med right now. Just like any profession, you hope people are keeping up with the latest evidence.

    You will see throughout all 3 articles that a specficially advise readers to get possible concussions assessed by medical professionals, that certainly includes EPs. 100% absolutely, no doubt about it.

    However, like anything in life. Knowledge is power, so if parents/coaches can be educated on proper concussion management even better. Had I followed that MD’s assessement of “It’s not a concussion because you didn’t black out” (and not kept educated on concussions) that kid could have been getting clobbered at the game the next day and then we have potentially life threatening issues. So with that, I am big on the education piece for everyone.

    Sorry for the confusion, hope this clarifies things.

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