The Midwest has been busy the past couple of days as now Iowa is about to bring SF153 up for a vote. Interestingly enough this bill in Iowa is very similar to the Illinois bill.
This bill directs the board of directors of each public school district and the authorities in charge of each nonpublic school to develop guidelines and other pertinent information and forms to inform and educate coaches, student athletes, and parents and guardians of student athletes of the nature and risk of concussions and other head injuries, including the danger of continuing to participate in athletic activities after a concussion or head injury. The bill requires school districts and nonpublic schools to annually provide the parent or guardian of a student athlete with a concussion and head injury information sheet which must be signed and returned before the student athlete may participate in an extracurricular interscholastic athletic activity.
We have spoken in-depth about how bills like this are a good, make that a great, start to the process but perhaps they are not going far enough. They are almost like “window dressing”, it won’t make the house more valuable, but it will sell it quicker. I also asked an Iowa athletic trainer to give me some feedback about the bill in their state;
I hadn’t actually read the IL bill until now and it does appear to be quite similar. I do agree that it would have been nice to see AT’s listed directly in the bill. I am most concerned about how each school district will define exactly which licensed health care professionals are “qualified” to assess concussions and return students to activity. It is a difficult situation to dictate from a state level when we have so many small rural schools with limited access to doctors and medical professionals. It is easy to see how some small, rural districts may include a local chiropractor or school nurse in their qualified health care professionals and allow them to evaluate and make rtp decisions for concussion. One other downfall is that it only covers interscholastic athletics. Who is looking out for the thousands of kids playing club soccer each year? I am not sure what I think about the state dictating rules to a private club, but I think it should be included somehow.
I do think many of our larger schools (3A and 4A) will see the benefit of an athletic trainer at their peer schools and decide to spend money in their budget to pay for athletic training services. That may be one great thing that comes out of this bill; if it passed. If an athletic trainer is there to evaluate possible head injuries and rules them out on the sideline of a football game, other schools will see this and realize the need to have access to something similar. That equals jobs for athletic trainers and significantly improved health care for teenage student athletes.
This makes me feel more confident in my stance about the Illinois bill, the one I would be working under if it were to be passed. Because both bills are similar and the commenter and I see about the same issues with it, there must be more done.
I will be truthfully honest on the chiropractor issue, I do not like it. They are trained to treat the spine, just because they have direct access does not mean they are qualified to assess the concussion issue. I wonder how chiropractors would feel if athletic trainers tried to get direct access and third-party payment? It is not a territorial peeing match, rather a question of educational background, but I will say this I know and work with many DC’s that are top-notch. I use them often for athletes and feel they are a big part of the sports medicine team and fill a role needed, but respecting boundaries of profession should be heeded.
Thanks to those that sent me the information about the Iowa bill.