Oregon schools fall behind on returning concussed students to classroom

When her six-year-old son Westen suffered a fall in September leading to a concussion, Stephanie Shimp-Taylor turned to her school for help. In need of accommodations for her son, Shimp-Taylor found herself under pressure for her son’s low attendance. Although Oregon law has measures in place to support student athletes, it’s often up to schools to fill in the gaps in the classroom for non-athletes. Oregon is offering an online course for educators called “In The Classroom After Concussion.”

A Painful Pendulum

For Sue Casey, wife of former football player Randy Casey, the link between concussion, her husband’s future behavior, and his eventual death will also never be certain. But it’s one that she attributes to the numerous concussions he suffered in his early career. Such risks to young athletes are mostly unexplored. And as reporter Kerry Eggers writes, “Although their stories typically don’t make headlines, they — and their families — are left wondering about how all those collisions on the gridiron impacted the rest of their lives.”

Unanswered Questions: Grieving parents wonder about the impact of their son’s concussion

Hunter Holmes, an active teen and the goalkeeper for Redmond High School’s soccer team suffered a life-changing blow to the head. Less than two months later, he committed suicide. Hunter’s grieving parents will never know the reason he took his own life. But they work to promote teen suicide and concussion awareness in tandem.

Clash of Craniums

Increased concern about brain trauma in youth sports puts soccer at a confounding crossroads. As athletes, parents and coaches look to limit head contact from their games, soccer enthusiasts are debating headers. They’re a dramatic part of play. But are they necessary?

Is there a ‘safe’ header?

Rest, training and prevention are key to keeping young athletes healthy. And because evidence suggests that young soccer players are more likely to suffer concussions on head-to-ball contact that they’re not prepared for, training for aerial play is important. U.S. Youth Soccer doesn’t allow players younger than 10 to deliberately head the ball in its leagues. It also strongly encourages leagues that combine players age 11 and 12 to consider restricting deliberate headers. Those precautions are reasonable, said Jim Chesnutt, co-director of the Oregon Concussion Awareness and Management Program.

The Concussion Gap: Head injuries in girls soccer are an ‘unpublicized epidemic’

National research has found girls are more likely to suffer a concussion than boys in any sport. And research in 2017 found concussion rates among young female soccer players were nearly as high as concussion rates for boys playing football — and roughly triple the rate of concussions in boys’ soccer. “In a lot of ways, it’s a growing epidemic for young girls that I think has gone unpublicized,” said Jim Chesnutt, a medical expert on sports concussion. InvestigateWest and Pamplin media group crunched the numbers in Oregon.

Closing the gaps in concussion law

Morgan Brunner, 13, received a concussion when hit by a stray ball during warm-up for a game of futsal. Thanks to Jenna’s Law, parents and coaches had received information about proper care and concussion protocols. Despite these success stories, there are still grey areas this law doesn’t cover, lawmakers say.