By: Allan M. Siegel
A few months ago we wrote about how Loudoun County parents were pushing
for the school district to adopt the use of helmet sensors to monitor
the impact football players were experiencing when playing. Loudoun County
Public Schools had previously said no, but the parents independently organized
an effort to place sensors on the helmets before being forced to remove
them during a practice. Interestingly, a football coach who had advocated
for the sensors within the school system was fired shortly before the
season started for unspecified reasons but continued to receive a coaching
stipend from the school.
Following these previous rejections, the parents switched from pushing
for outside-the-helmet sensors to ones that are placed inside the helmet
and certified by a national safety organization. Parents were even willing
to place and monitor the data or alerts themselves, rather than requiring
coaches or school staff to do it.
Unfortunately, at a November 5, meeting of the Loudon School Board's
Health, Safety and Transportation Committee,
the panel decided unanimously to reject any helmet sensors. The school committee and spokesperson even seemed to completely discount
the push by the parents, stating "nobody, other than a small group
of parent at one of our 14 high schools, has asked for sensors."
This ignores the reality that 100 parents had signed a petition requesting
the sensors, and one of the leaders of the parents offered to submit an
additional 1,000 signatures and had raised money to pay for the sensors.
While Loudoun County continues to reject this new technology that could
help prevent or better understand concussions, 207 football programs across
the country, including six high school teams in Virginia have adopted
these sensors in hopes of better identifying and managing head injuries.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C., we understand the complexities
of concussions and traumatic brain injury. Partner Joseph Cammarata is
a founder of the Brain Injury Association of DC which is dedicated to
the research, prevention, and advocacy for brain injuries. He also drafted
the Athletic Concussion Protection Act of 2011, which implemented return
to play guidelines to protect athletes 18 years old or younger in the
District of Columbia. Similar laws and guidelines have been adopted in
Virginia thanks to the tireless efforts of the Brain Injury Association
of Virginia, and individuals like the parents in Loudon County. This sensor
technology helmet could be a valuable tool to aid in the prevention of
brain injuries from student athletes all the way up to the professional level.