Our Opinion: Sensible approach to brain injuries

In matters of the brain, common sense is applicable.

A concussion is an injury to the brain that can result from violent collisions in contact sports.

Players and coaches are not trained to assess the magnitude of the impact or the severity of a concussion. During the heat of competition, players may err in their assessments and insist on continuing to play.

State lawmakers are considering a bill designed to promote awareness of concussions, prevent compounding the injury and require a medical assessment.

We believe this common-sense proposal has much merit.

The proposal would establish a panel of state health officials, school board members and sports association representatives to develop guidelines and information for coaches, parents and high school athletes. Parents and children would be required to read and sign a form indicating they have read the data about concussions.

The legislation also would require young athletes to be removed from games or practices if they appear to be suffering from a concussion or brain injury. Athletes would be sidelined for at least 24 hours and would need to be cleared for play by a qualified medical professional before returning to the sport.

The proposal is supported by medical officials and sports organizations, including the National Football League.

Testifying in favor of the bill this week was Lincoln University football coach Mike Jones, who played college ball at Mizzou and pro football with the St. Louis Rams.

“A swollen ankle is totally different from a swollen brain,” he told lawmakers.

Concussions may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, memory loss, blurred vision and impaired speech. They also may alter levels of alertness, consciousness and judgment.

Under those conditions, a player is incapable of using common sense as a basis for making decisions.

We encourage lawmakers to approve this sensible, statewide standard for dealing with concussions suffered by young athletes.

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