ST. LOUIS, Mo. – St. Louis area medical professionals are throwing their support behind a bill making its way through the Missouri legislature. The bill would help protect high school athletes from concussions.
Among other measures, the High School Sports Brain Injury Prevention Act would require student athletes to be cleared by a doctor before returning to play or practice. It's currently awaiting a committee vote in the Missouri House of Representatives.
Dr. Jose Pineda, director of the Pediatric Neurocritical Care Program at St. Louis Children's Hospital, says there's no such thing as a mild brain injury. He says the effects of a concussion can be delayed for hours after an accident. They can range from short-term irritability and headaches to long-term cognitive impairment, and even death. Dr. Pineda says the best treatment is rest - both physical and mental.
"Before you go back to intense sports activities or intense testing or cognitive activities at school, you should be cleared by someone who has expertise in concussion," says Dr. Pineda.
Eureka High School sophomore Connor Pahl knows about traumatic brain injury first hand. He got a concussion playing goalie for his varsity soccer team last fall. Pahl says his coach did the right thing making him sit out the rest of the season.
"I went to every practice and game to support them," said Pahl. "And my coach wouldn't let me even kick a soccer ball without a doctor saying I could. So that was good."
As many as 140,000 U.S. high school athletes sustain concussions each year.