Every year, thousands of children and adolescents participate in sports. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 170,000 young athletes are seen in emergency rooms each year for concussion — and many more youth with concussions never visit the ER. Although concussions vary in severity, they are brain injuries, and even mild ones may have long-term consequences.
In “Changing the Warrior Culture,” an article written for the fall 2010 edition of UW Medicine magazine, we told the story of Zackery Lystedt, a boy from Maple Valley, Wash. Zack sustained a concussion in a football game in 2006 and was not removed from play. His concussion, unfortunately, turned into severe brain injury.
Zack continues to face many daily challenges, but we are happy to report he has made excellent progress, and so has the legislation he inspired: the Lystedt Law, signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2009. The law has three provisions: the education of athletes, parents and coaches about concussions; the removal of a youth athlete from play after a potential concussion; and the requirement that a healthcare professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussion approve the athlete’s return to play.
“I am happy to let you know that there are now 48 states with Lystedt-type laws,” says Stan Herring, M.D., Res. ’82, medical director of UW Medicine Sports, Spine and Orthopedic Health. Herring, a co-medical director of the Seattle Sports Concussion Program, helped back the law that was authored by attorney Richard H. Adler, then president of the Brain Injury Association of Washington.
“The Lystedt Law was the first of its kind,” says Herring, “and it helped bring conversations about athlete safety regarding brain injury to the forefront, state by state.”
For concussion toolkits, information on the Seattle Sports Concussion Program and more, visit uwmedicine.org/sportsconcussion.