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New Law Takes Brain Injury Seriously

Coloradan and Grandview High School Freshman Jake Snakenberg died after he received a hard tackle during a school football game in 2004. At the time, doctors advised that Snakenberg must have suffered an undiagnosed brain injury received during the previous week’s game. So when the student was injured a second time, the injuries were compounded and led to his death. The final diagnosis: Second Impact Syndrome. Snakenberg isn’t the first young athlete to die after suffering such a severe brain injury, and he won’t be the last.

Just days ago, nearly seven years after Snakenberg’s death, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law the Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act. Student athletes will always acquire injuries, but the new law aims to improve early diagnosis of youth brain injuries and, therefore, prevent needless deaths.

As a requirement of this new law, all sports coaches who work with minor athletes age 11 to 18 will undergo annual concussion recognition training and certification. Then, if a youth coach suspects a player has suffered a concussion, he or she must pull the child from play and cannot allow him or her to return until cleared for play by a licensed health care professional. The annual concussion recognition training will be available to coaches without cost via online-based education and testing resources. The age range targeted through the training is the 11- to 18- year-old group of young athletes who are the most at risk from receiving a traumatic brain injury.

The required coach training is a big step towards keeping young athletes healthy. To the untrained eye, it can be extremely difficult to identify when someone has received a brain injury. An accident victim of any age can take a blow to the head and not immediately display any outward symptoms of the hit. Of course, if a brain injury is left undiagnosed and untreated, the injury can become fatal. It is perfectly natural to see athletes young and old pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get on with playing. That doesn’t mean there was no injury; impact to the brain just isn’t always immediately apparent.

Brain injuries are sustained everyday in auto accidents, work accidents or just after clumsy accidents at home. Since we as personal injury attorneys constantly see the fallout from brain injuries caused by all these things, we think it’s important for everyone to be made aware of the symptoms that can develop after a blow to the head.

It’s important to note, a brain injury victim won’t necessarily lose consciousness right after acquiring the concussion. So, discount consciousness as the determining factor and seek medical assistance immediately if, after a hit on head, a friend or loved one develops the symptoms of dizziness, headache, blurred vision, confusion, vomiting and/or loss of consciousness.

When it comes to the matter of a brain injury, it’s far better to be safe than sorry. A quick visit to the doctor now may save a 911 call days or weeks later.