Sports practices begin with new concussion rules

Law prevents students from returning to practice same day as head injury

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Sports practices for football, golf, swimming, diving and volleyball get underway at schools throughout our area Monday morning.

With a new season, comes a new concussion law that is going into effect.

The law impacts students who suffer a head injury and it determines when they'll get back in the game.

Athletes can suffer concussions in practically any sport.

For 11-year-old Lexi Riley, it happened during a game of flag football.

"I was dizzy. I had headaches," Lexi said. "I felt like I was walking through a haze all the time."

Lexi said she felt like a zombie. Her vision was blurred and she couldn't sleep. Her mother didn't realize how serious her injury was.

"I didn't think it would be possible for flag football," Riley's mom Sara Dipoalo said. "I had no idea what we were in for."

Out of 300,000 head injuries reported annually in high school sports, just like Lexi's, 90 percent of them are concussions.

Under the new law, there is no same day return to play, rather a graduated return to exercise.

The Mayo Clinic is advocating for a computerized baseline concussion assessment, for each athlete to complete before they return to the field.

As for Lexi, she's turning now to running and swimming. Doctors say children, adolescents and females are more at risk.

"Their brains are still developing," Sports Medicine Dr. Jennifer Maynard said. "The hard and fast wires aren't working. Other things that could put them at risk is the head to neck ratio and the cervical muscles."

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