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Chicago Schools' Treatment of Sports Concussions in Question

Earlier this month, two city council members joined forces to implement safer practices within Chicago's elementary, secondary and high schools. The health issue at the center of their proposal is concussions, which students of all ages frequently suffer from due to sports injuries.

Illinois schools currently do have a policy in place regarding concussions. At this point, school policy prohibits students suffering from concussions to return to their sport if there is any physical sign that they are still injured. Safety advocates in Chicago want their area schools to be required to protect students' health and future development even further.

Not all coaches, school employees and parents can effectively recognize when a student is suffering from a brain injury. Medical professionals are best equipped to give kids the green light regarding their health and whether it's safe to return to athletic activities. The safety proposal, therefore, would require students to provide written approval from a doctor in order to participate in any school-sponsored sports, including practices.

In order for that requirement to actually effect change and keep kids safe, coaches and other school staff would have to respect that policy. To deter violations, schools that fail to adhere to the proposed policy would lose out on their water and sewage fee exemptions.

The desire to win, please student athletes or their parents should not outweigh a school employee's responsibility to protect the well-being of students. Allowing children to play a sport when they are still suffering from a brain injury puts them at risk for even more severe, permanent disabilities.

We will post an update as this proposal moves through the legislative process.


Chicago Tribune: "Aldermen seek tougher rules on concussions for high school athletes," 10 Nov. 2010

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