Yesterday at the White House President Barack Obama hosted a special event designed to spotlight the dangers of concussions and traumatic brain injuries in youth sports. As someone who has worked and written on these issues for years it is inspiring to see them receiving this kind of attention at the presidential level.
Citing the Centers for Disease Control, the White House website notes that “kids and young adults make nearly 250,000 emergency room visits each year as a result of brain injuries from sport and recreation. And that doesn’t include visits that young people made to their family doctor, or those who don’t seek any help.”
To put these issues in the spotlight, Mr. Obama was introduced at the event by a teenage girl who suffered a concussion while playing soccer. The President told attendees that concussions “are not just a football issue. They don’t just affect grown men who choose to accept some risk to play a game they love and excel at. Every season, you’ve got boys and girls who are getting concussions in lacrosse and soccer and wrestling and ice hockey, as well as football.”
According to data published on the White House website in relation to the event the NCAA and the Defense Department have jointly committed $30 million to “concussion education and the most comprehensive concussion study ever, involving up to 37,000 college athletes.” The White House also notes that “The National Institute of Standards and Technology (is) investing $5 million over the next five years to develop more advanced materials that can provide better protection against concussions for our athletes, troops and others.”
As a Portland concussion and sports injury attorney with a special interest in injuries to children I was very excited to hear about yesterday’s White House event and to see the media coverage it received. I have used this blog for several years to try to highlight the risks of youth sports. As the President said yesterday, those risks do not in any diminish the important role sports play in helping build character, life skills and physical fitness. They are an important part of our children’s lives. As parents, however, it is equally important for all of us to do everything we can to guarantee our kids safety, and to support any initiative that makes youth sports safer.
White House Website: President Obama Hosts the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit