The good news is that Mississippi is unlikely to long remain the only state in the nation without a youth athlete concussion policy. Under leadership of Public Health Committee chairman Sam Mims, House Bill 48 sailed through the House, and should do likewise in the Senate, where health leader Brice Wiggins has pushed for concussion legislation in the past. One less black eye for Mississippi on the health front.
The news would be better still if the legislation incorporated ongoing educational and research efforts. Getting a policy in place is a good first step, but as we move forward we’ll need comprehensive training based on current knowledge for those responsible for concussion prevention, mitigation, and intervention, coupled with a centralized capacity to track and report the incidence of concussion in youth athletics. The College of Health, and specifically colleagues in the School of Human Performance and Recreation with specialized knowledge of brain injury, is in an excellent position to offer the state these resources.
Concussion is a critical and widespread public health concern. The more we understand it and its long-term consequences, the more we realize how serious it is. The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine estimates that nearly four million concussion injuries occur annually in the U.S., with as many as half going unreported. We can’t move too quickly to address the need for training and incident tracking in this area. Until we do, our young athletes will remain at an unnecessarily high level of risk.