Children’s brains are constantly growing and developing. As such, they are more sensitive and easily damaged than adult brains — and their concussions are much more serious. The same impact or force can do more damage to children and teen brains than adult brains. And, it can also take them longer to heal.
So when children receive head injuries, it is very important for them to rest, recover and see a medical professional, even if the impact seems minor. Concussions are of especially high prevalence during sports games like soccer and football.
The need to stop and treat concussions can run up against the mentality for children to “be tough” or “shake it off” and get back in the game. But not attending to a concussion immediately can have devastating, life-long effects on a child – like Zackary Lystedt.
When Zack was 13, he was playing in a football game and suffered a head injury during a tackle. He came off the field, but only for three plays. After the game, Zack collapsed and was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center. He spent the following year unable to move or speak and the next three years unable to walk.
But Zack was determined to make sure this didn’t happen to other children. Thanks to the efforts of concerned lawmakers and Zack’s family and attorney, Washington state passed the Zackary Lystedt Law requiring that children who are suspected of having a concussion be removed from play. The children are then not able to return to practice or play until they have been evaluated by a medical professional.
Zackary’s story received national attention, and Washington’s landmark law paved the way for other states to pass laws protecting children and teens from serious brain damage from concussions. This year, all 50 states have now passed laws addressing concussions in youth sports!