Concussion Activist Is an Agent of Change

(Editor’s Note: Shared content from Concussion Litigation Reporter) Katherine “Price” Snedaker is striving to be an agent of change in concussion education for youth sports.

Whether that change is affected through public speaking, consulting, or social media, she doesn’t care. As long as change happens.

Founder of the portal, we sought out Snedaker. An exclusive interview follows.

Question: What drew you to the concussion space?

Answer: In 7th grade, my son was hit with a soccer ball in temple while on the sidelines talking to a friend during school recess. He was dropped to the ground with what was diagnosed as a concussion which cause headaches, inability to read, and a change in his personality. It would be almost 3.5 months before he could return to school. He would concuss five more times in the next 13 months as his life and our family’s life was put on hold.  I wanted to understand what was going on and so I sought out experts in the field at conferences, on phone calls and face to face meetings.

Q: Why are we seeing more concussions today than we did 20 years ago?

A: I will go out on a limb here and give a non-traditional answer. The standard reasons usually given for this question are the change in the definition of a concussion to include concussions without LOC, public awareness efforts to educate, press about the NFL lawsuits, Chris Nowinski’s tireless efforts through SLI and Head Games, and the distribution of CDC materials, etc. But I also believe it is in part because concussions don’t fit the 2014 iPhone lifestyle.

Kids and adults today spend hours and hours on screens, smart boards, iPads and engaged in smart technology. When concussed in the 1970’s one would come home from school and probably took nap, maybe read a book, watched maybe an 1/2 hour of TV across the living room. I believe that without all the screen time, injured brains had more quality time to rest.

In terms of more sport-concussions, we do have more kids playing competitive sports at early ages and multiple sports are played around the year with overlapping seasons or simply seasons that never end. We also have as a society placed a huge focus on sports concussions even though best estimates are that only 1 out of every 4 concussions in children are related to playing an organized sport. A 2012 study showed that children are more likely to be taken to the doctor when they sustained a head injury in a sports-related activity than a child who is hurt in a non-sport related accident. Partially due to concussion education but I personally believe it is also because of the public nature of the injury that motivates parents to seek medical care.

Q: How do your organizations intersect with the legal side of the concussion crisis?

A: Our last four events have included lawyers as guest speakers who come to help clarify the legal issues around concussions to school nurses, staff and youth sports leaders. I believe there is a narrow band of time before lawsuits and insurance premiums will determine who plays what game and how.  I invite lawyers to our events to help people understand liability issues about concussion sideline recognition training, dispel fear, and teach staff and coaches how to protect against litigation and continue to play sports.

Q: Who needs what your organization provides the most and why?

A: Youth sports – our youngest athletes have the least experienced coaches and virtually no athletic trainers at their events. Coaches, parents and athletes themselves need to understand basic concussion signs and symptoms to recognize in oneself but also very importantly in one’s teammates.

Q: What are the keys to solving the concussion crisis?

A: Here are some key steps any adult can take to become a resource when a head injury takes place. You can save a life.

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Click these links to learn:
  3. Take the free CDC online concussion courses – takes 20 minutes:

As a community, we need to take these key steps:

  1. Fund full-time athletic trainers in every school along with school nurses.
  2. Launch national youth database like in every k-12 school for the school year 2013-2014, and see what is really happening out there.
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