When it comes to student athletes, one of the most important functions of a doctor is to ensure the student is not playing sports at the expense of his or her body. This is especially true for male contact sports, where the rate of reporting for concussions and head injuries are far lower than reporting for other groups of athletes.
For years, Kansas has given chiropractors the ability to pull student athletes from play. Their expertise regarding neck injuries, especially those who specialize in brain rehabilitation, has been crucial in keeping students safe. However, chiropractors were not afforded the authority to clear students to return to play—that is, possibly until this year.
In March 2016, Kansas legislators received a bill backed by the Kansas Chiropractors Association that cites the growing importance of clinical neuroscience and chiropractic treatment to athletic health. The bill would allow chiropractors to clear students healthy enough to compete—an authority that only physicians in larger cities currently have. This forces rural families to drive long distances to receive medical clearance rather than consult their local doctor, who treated their child in the first place.
Dr. Matthew Antonucci, the Director of Neurological Performance and Rehabilitation at Plasticity Brain Centers, cited the reliability and authority of chiropractic doctors when he said, “Advances in health sciences have led to certifications in chiropractic healthcare specialties, including neurology. Specialists pursue post-graduate specialty training from an accredited institution; chiropractic specialties and their educational programs fall under regulation of the American Chiropractic Board of Specialties, parented by the American Chiropractic Association, or ACA.”
Chiropractors, like specialists in other areas of medicine, are subject to the standards of a medical certification board. This ensures that students are receiving the care and protection they need when they turn to chiropractic methods of physical rehabilitation. Dr. Sergio Azzolino, Chair of the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners—as well as the Vice President of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board—echoes that thought, saying, “Chiropractors, as primary healthcare providers, have an increasing role in treatment of athletes and have been integral in setting the standard for rehabilitation of post-traumatic brain injuries.”
At Plasticity Brain Centers, we support any measure that gives qualified doctors the ability to protect students. As concerns grow regarding the role of concussion and brain injury among student athletes, the ability to fully monitor and exercise protections over an athlete’s health is crucial. Parents have the right to expect consistent and effective treatment for their children, and doctors need more legal authority in order to do so. We hope Kansas legislators consider the threat that brain injury poses to our young athletes and respond to the bill favorably.