Children – Teenage Concussions
· Health care providers report sharp increase in official diagnoses of concussions among many Illinois teenagers. The diagnosis count increased 83% from 2010 to 2015 among a large subset of Illinois children aged 10 to 19. The subset is made up of those children and young adults that are members of households insured by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Illinois’ largest health care insurer. Blue Cross reports that more than 8 million of the 12.9 million people of Illinois are covered by their firm. The numbers reflect diagnostic codings reached by health care professionals, used by them as a basis for follow-up treatments of their patients, and submitted to Blue Cross for requested reimbursement.
It is not known to what extent, if any, concussions are growing in Illinois. Health care providers have worked hard in recent years to improve their screening for this diagnosis when a patient is presented for treatment. Many older Illinoisans will remember incidents, especially on a sports field, when a young person would have reported that he was “feeling woozy” and, instead of being diagnosed and treated by trained medical personnel, would have been urged to sit down until he felt better.
The General Assembly has taken significant actions in recent years to treat teenage concussions, particularly in high school sports. The Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act, passed in spring 2015, has led to a series of new guidelines from the Illinois High School Association. A principle guideline mandates that school coaches and officials undergo both first-time training and, as a follow-up, continuing education in the field diagnosis of concussions and other acute medical conditions. Additional guidelines set forth pathways and markers for an affected student, his or her family and caregivers, and his or her athletic trainers to follow in returning a person diagnosed with a concussion to possible future sports activity.