Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs updated concussion law requiring return-to-play protocols in all Iowa high schools

Published: Apr. 27, 2018 at 6:20 PM CDT
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Earlier this week, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill updating the state's concussion law in the hopes of better protecting Iowa high school athletes. The new law requires return-to-play and return-to-learn protocols to be used by all Iowa high schools.

What that means is students who sustain head injuries, must ease back into learning, and ease back into competitive play by going through a series of cognitive tests to get back on the field. This is where baseline testing comes in, which is a preseason exam given by a healthcare professional.

"Concussions are a really big problem with our student-athletes," said Genesis health Speech Pathologist, Mary Beth Meyers. She says this law is something that's been needed for years. Physical therapists often come into help players get back on their feet after an injury, but as a speech pathologist, Myers helps an athletes mind get back on track, with a series of test on an iPad. They test things that involve cognition, such as memory and communication.

One example of testing the brain is balanced testing. Doctors strap an iPad on a patient, get them to stand on a foam map with one foot with your eyes closed. We tested it out and it wasn't easy, but doctors say it's necessary.

"It's really hard because you have dizziness and sometimes a person with a concussion just feels like that kind of level of dizziness on a normal surface, so we have to try some things to see how their balance is affected," said Myers.

Every person is different when it comes to concussions, but health care officials say these tests are so important to avoid causing permanent damage to an already injured brain.