I have not previously written about one topic that is of prime importance to my family. My 16-year-old son, David, has dedicated himself to fighting for improved education, prevention, testing and treatment related to concussions. He has experienced several concussions from soccer that have demonstrated to our family how significant these brain injuries are and how little people know about avoiding them and/or getting help once they have occurred. Thanks to David and his Countywide Concussion Care effort, for the first time, football and soccer players in all of the public high schools in Miami-Dade County will receive baseline testing for concussions before next fall’s games.
Along the way, David has become a voice for an effort to achieve legislation in Florida to address basic issues of concussion education, removal from play and return to play. About 15 states have now passed such legislation with active support from the NFL. Florida had a great chance to be the first state in the Southeast U.S. to pass such legislation. Although we were warned that it was not easy to get legislation through the Legislature in Tallahassee on the first try, things were looking up after the legislation unanimously passed the House.
When the action moved to the Senate, the process was derailed at the last moment in a way that turned even my cynical political stomach. One powerful Senator who is himself a chiropractor decided – in my opinion without any basis in fact – that this legislation was a threat to the chiropractic profession. Displaying zero concern for Florida’s youth athletes, he engineered the legislation’s defeat on a voice vote that the President of the Senate was unable to manage effectively in the tumultuous last hours of the session. Maybe most remarkable is that the two Senators I understand (through my Our Kids service) to have specific child welfare responsibility both opposed Florida’s interest to protect its youth in favor of the chiropractic lobby. Don’t get me wrong, I am a loyal long-term patient of a wonderful chiropractor, but no one, who has anything to do with concussions in a serious way, believes chiropractors had justification to kill this bill. But they did, and now my son and the rest of us need to forge on to achieve the right result as soon as possible.