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The Near-Fatal Football Injury That Lead To California’s Proposed Laws on Concussions

We recently wrote that California is considering new legislation that would impose strict guidelines on when high school athletes can return to the field after sustaining head injuries. Only three other states have policies as strict as the one California is considering.

The San Francisco Chronicle today has a detailed story, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/24/MN6V1BM6OR.DTL, on
the young man whose near-fatal football injury lead to the proposed legislation.

Blea was playing for San Jose Academy High when he was hit in the chest during a play at a Thanksgiving Day game last year. He got up from the field, got to the sidelines and then collapsed. He was put in a drug-induced coma for a week, spent almost a month in hospitals and lost 31 pounds, according to the Chronicle.

The story cites a number of statistics regarding high school injuries. For example, about 68,000 concussions were sustained during the 2008 high school football season, according to the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study.

And the man who helped organize that study, Ohio State associate professor Dawn Comstock, said that in 2008 16 percent of high school football players who had concussions where they lost consciousness went back to play that same day.

Blea played as a running back and linebacker, positions that one study found are most likely to get concussions.

Two U.S. high school players died as a direct result of football injuries last year, the Chronicle story says.

Physicians say Blea’s outlook is good, but he can’t play football again.

When he was hit, Blea fell and his head hit the turf, with his brain “slamming against his skull,” according to the Chronicle.

The story then describes his surgeries and recovery.

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