NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk concussion expert Katherine Snedaker believes youth sports leagues need to provide more concussion education for coaches and parents.
A recent bill passed in the state legislature requires schools to provide concussion education to athletes and parents, as well as keep track of head injuries. Snedaker worked to get the bill passed, but said that requirements for youth leagues were dropped. She said that youth leagues need to address the issue and make concussion education mandatory.
“I think that some youth leagues are worried that it’s one more thing that they have to ask their parent volunteers to do,” she said. However, she believes that it does not have to take much time or money to properly train coaches. Free information is available through the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and through smartphone apps so that coaches and parents can recognize the signs of a concussion.
Some municipalities across the country require concussion education in order for youth leagues to use town fields. She said that if Connecticut towns passed ordinances with similar requirements, it would go a long way toward making sure young athletes receive proper care when they suffer a head injury. Cities such as Norwalk have offered education workshops for coaches on how to recognize concussions, but they have been sparsely attended.
“People are so busy, they’re not going to make time to do it unless it’s mandatory,” Snedaker said.
“They’re not diagnosing anything or being asked to perform a medical procedure. It’s about recognizing the signs and symptoms of a concussion so they can tell the parents to take their kid to medical providers,” she said.
It’s important when parents are signing their kids up for youth sports that they research the league’s concussion policies, she said.
“Parents can talk to the president of the league and start a conversation,” she said. It’s important for parents to ask questions, and push for concussion education if none is provided. “Parents can also research options to help the league out.”
She said that youth sports signups have been down in recent years, and that some people feel that the push for more concussion education is a way to scare people away from signing their kids up. She said that sports are an important part of a child’s development, but there just needs to be more effort made to keep them safe when they play and make sure they receive proper treatment when injured.
“We want more kids to play sports,” Snedaker said.