A Closer Look at Dave Duerson Act
By Dr. Jose Armendariz, M.D., CAQSM
The Dave Duerson Act (HB 4341) is the new legislation proposed in Illinois to prohibit children younger than 12 years of age from playing tackle football in hopes of preventing the development of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Is it too soon to target a single sport and age group with the information we have at this time?
Jose Armendariz M.D., CAQSM
Having approximately 250,000 youth football players 5-15 years of age in Pop Warner leagues in addition to the over 1.1 million male high school athletes playing American football, tackling this issue and even answering this question becomes a real challenge. As a sports medicine specialist treating sports injuries, including concussions, the topic of CTE is extremely important to me.
This issue should definitely be an important concern for athletes and parents whose children participate in collision sports. The question is whether a focused policy like the Dave Duerson Act would help prevent brain injury in young athletes.
Our knowledge of this injury is evolving, and with all the new information we are learning regarding sports concussions, CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), mTBI (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury), including safety gear, blood tests, and management of sports-related concussions, it is no wonder parents and athletes are at a loss when it comes to this injury and where to seek guidance. There are even variable recommendations among healthcare providers from the time of injury to the resolution.
The International Concussion Consensus Statement created in 2002, updated in 2016, has action steps to help prevent sports-related concussion brain injuries. The action steps can be found in the CDC website and focus on three important points:
- Informing/Educating coaches, athletes, and parents/guardians about concussions
- Remove athlete from play who is believed to have a concussion, right away
- Obtain permission to return to play, after a period of 24 hours, from a qualified health care professional familiar with sports-related concussions.
With the current scientific efforts underway to protect youth while keeping them active, my advice to parents regarding youth collision sports, as well as sports-related concussions, and any questions regarding the new legislature, equipment and safety, would be that injury, including concussion, is inherent to any collision sport. Risk should always be taken into consideration by parents prior to their child’s participation. The silver lining is that sports-related concussion awareness, diagnosis, management, as well as return to play is improving and everyone involved is on the side of preventing youth brain injury.
As a sports medicine physician who treats injuries such as concussions, I believe legislation focusing on education about concussion within the community, the removal of injured players, and allowing them to return to play when properly cleared, is the best approach to prevent long term sports-related brain injury.
Jose Armendariz, M.D., CAQSM
Sports Medicine Specialist
Genesis Health Group