In Hawaii, concussion safety (on and off the field) is the law

Local athletic trainer reinforces that their concussion protocol is safe and effective
Published: Oct. 1, 2022 at 5:35 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 2, 2022 at 12:26 AM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With questions swirling about how Tua Tagovailoa’s head injury was handled, trainers in Hawaii want to show their process for monitoring concussions are effective and safe.

Over the last two decades, the methods used to evaluate and treat concussions has changed.

Long gone are the days of “walking it off” or “sucking it up.”

“I’ve been in the profession for quite some time and maybe 20 years ago on the sideline if someone reported a head injury and if they were cleared within 5-10 minutes, they’re back in the game,” Hawaii Athletic Trainers Association president Reid Takano told Hawaii News Now.

“That’s changed substantially since then, thing we talk about with our athletes is that you only have one brain, it’s not worth the game.”

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If a player is evaluated for a head injury, they are out for the remainder of the contest and then begins a gradual return to play program when symptoms subside.

They must pass the concussion baseline test and be cleared by a licensed health care provider before they can return to full competition. It’s the law of the land — literally.

“I think it’s important to note that in Hawaii we do have a concussion law.” Takano said.

“So it does mandate it and basically the concussion law standardizes concussion management in Hawaii high schools and in youth sports.”

The law also mandates annual concussion education for athletes, coaches, parents and school officials to create a team approach to player safety. However, even with a better understanding of brain injuries, medical experts still say that caution is the best medicine.

“This is truly a brain injury and we need to take that seriously,” pediatric sports medicine Dr. Rachel Coel said. “We are still learning the science of concussions, and we don’t fully understand concussions.”

“We always want to take extra caution.”

“The big thing that we’re trying to prevent is second impact syndrome.” Takano added. “You bring someone back too quick and they sustain another concussion, the effects of that can be very detrimental.

If an athlete is feeling any concussive symptoms or just feeling off during or after athletic competition, the experts urge them to notify their athletic trainer immediately.