Calif. lawmaker worried about head trauma

SACRAMENTO Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward) is proposing that high-school coaches be trained in recognizing the signs of brain injury and getting help for it.

Her research on football, for instance, found head injuries led to at least 51 deaths or critically injured U.S. high school and youth football players from 1997-2007.

A handful of those cases were in the corridor between San Joaquin County and the Bay Area alone.

"We need to be able to train coaches to be able to recognize symptoms of a concussion or serious injury. They can make a difference in saving a life," said Hayashi.

The recent death of actress /*Natasha Richardson*/ put the spotlight on sports-related brain injury. Richardson died after a fall while skiing.

Doctors say we need to pay extra attention to kids because repeated concussions can lead to consequences later on in life.

"Losing IQ points, not being able to pay attention, having headaches for a long period of time, not being able to perform cognitively," said Amer Khan, M.D., Sutter Neuroscience Institute.

Some members of one community college team understand the benefits of the extra training. However, they worry about losing play time, especially if a college scholarship or pro career is on the line.

"Somebody could come out one day, saying they have a headache and that might cause them to bench them when they really have a headache," said Cecil Richardson, a former high-school athlete. "So ... might end up putting your best player on the bench being extra cautious."

At least 25,000 high-school coaches in California will have to take the class and pay for it themselves. The proposal will be heard in the Assembly Education Committee on Wednesday.


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