CHICAGO (CBS) — In January 2011, the city of Chicago passed some of the most strict concussion legislation in the country. It mandates that all Chicago Public School coaches must be trained on how to identify concussions in their young athletes, and what do if someone has such head trauma.
But as CBS 2’s Rob Johnson reports, that’s just the beginning, as there are several efforts afoot to protect school-aged athletes from serious brain injuries.
Eight-year-old Jack Devine remembered “when I got up I felt dizzy.”
Jack and his 14-year-old sister Taylor, both of Glencoe, share a love for hockey. They also share the fact that they’ve recently suffered concussions, within weeks of each other.
Taylor said, “I was scared, but if i pushed it too far, I wasn’t going to be able to play hockey for a longer period of time.”
The problem has been so serious that Chicago Public Schools now mandate all of 3,000 public school coaches must have concussion training. On this day led by Boston University concussion expert Chris Nowinski.
Nowinski told the crowd “the head obviously does not have to be directly hit for the brain to be injured, this is something to appreciate when you’re trying to spot children falling down and getting concussions.”
Ensuring that coaches, no matter what sport, are protecting CPS’ 75,000 athletes.
Nowinski said “that means that they deserve education. they deserve coaches who understand what concussions are and then they deserve the ability to go to a doctor who understands what they should be doing when they have a concussion.
Nowinski is the head of the Chicago Concussion Coalition, which includes medical groups and various ex-athletes. CPS Sports Director Calvin Davis is in charge of making sure the coaches get the message.
Davis explained that “we do have the authority to discipline coaches who do not abide by policies.”
The other mission for the CCC is getting treatment for potentially concussed students pro bono, at facilities which are part of the coalition, including the Illinois Eye Institute and Rush Sports Medicine, where Dr. Jeff Mjaanes sees young patients like Taylor Devine all of the time.
In addition to the Coalition, the Chicago Blackhawks have helped create the Step Ahead program to educate youth hockey coaches in Illinois and provide testing for 13-18 year old players. Blackhawks broadcaster Eddie Olczyk is passionate about it.
Olczyk said “it’s ok to have the courage to tell your coach or your trainer or your mom or dad that I am not feeling well, whatever it might be how the little the symptom may be.”
When asked why is it important to tell the truth about concussions?
Jack Devine answered “because then i just don’t wanna get another concussion and be out for like a long time.”
Chicago’s Brain Research Foundation has been a major funder of the Coalition. And in the spirit of full disclosure Rob Johnson is a trustee of the BRF.