Lawmakers Consider Mandate for Medical Professionals at Football Games

Feb 5, 2017

Whether or not your team won last weekend, this year’s Super Bowl comes at a time when the Iowa legislature is considering new laws for so-called “collision sports” in Iowa schools.  

A bill to require a health care professional at every high school varsity football, soccer, or wrestling match is being considered at the statehouse. Its chief concern is preventing students who have suffered head injuries or concussions from going back into the game when they should be receiving medical attention.

Dr. Andy Peterson, MD, clinical associate professor of pediatrics, with clinics in pediatrics and sports medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, says that while many sports have risks for concussions, football makes sense as a starting point.

"Among the sports that high school kids participate in, cheerleading actually has the highest rate of concussion. There's about 10 concussions per 10,000 exposures in cheerleading, compared to about 6 concussions per 10,000 exposures in football," he says.

"The difference is that football is such a huge participatory sport; more high school kids play football than any other sport in the United States. So from a public health standpoint, the burden of disease here is much higher for football."

In this hour of River to River, hosts Ben Kieffer and Joyce Russell talk with Peterson and lawmakers about the finer points of the proposed legislation.

Also on the program:

  • Representative Megan Jones, Republican from Sioux Rapids
  • Representative Timi Brown-Powers, Democrat from Waterloo
  • Clint Ludderman, physical therapist in Perry who has sidelined for high school sports
  • Senator Tod Bowman, Democrat from Maquoketa