Volume 43 | Number 2 | Spring 2013

A Crusade for Our Heads

Spring 2013 Issue | By Andrew Taylor

Idaho State University Professor Caroline Fauré Raises Concussion Awareness

Without the efforts of Idaho State University's Caroline Fauré, Idaho would not have a new concussion law or the ISU Center for Sports Concussion.

Idaho passed initial concussion legislation in 2010. Idaho made that law stronger in 2012 (House Bill 632).

"Idaho was the third state in the nation to act on concussion, and now there are 42 other states that have responded to the concussion crisis," Fauré said. "That speaks volumes."

Support for the bill came from many, including coaches, parents, athletes, school superintendents and the State Department of Education. The 2010 bill required that the Idaho State Board of Education and the Idaho High School Activities Association provide access to appropriate concussion identification and management guidelines to all member schools that administer or promote organized athletic leagues and sport programs. In 2012, the law was strengthened to include mandatory concussion education for all coaches, parents and athletes as well as requiring those athletes who are suspected to have sustained a concussion to be immediately removed from play. Only with written medical clearance from an appropriate health care provider may those athletes return to athletic participation.

"It was a tremendous amount of work (getting the concussion bills passed), but I'm ecstatic that Idaho stepped up to the plate and recognized this injury is something that needs to be dealt with responsibly so these kids are safe," Fauré said.

Her initial efforts to get a concussion bill passed were given a boost by a $60,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation five years ago, and she worked hard since then to help spread awareness about the risks associated with concussion and to get legislation passed in Idaho to better protect kids.

After the 2010 effort ended with a new law that just addressed concussion awareness, Fauré reached out to the NFL to ask for their assistance in getting a stronger bill passed in 2012. The NFL took up the cause, largely because of Fauré's efforts.

Carolyn Fauré

"Because we had set the table so well, the NFL assisted us," she said. "It takes thousands and thousands of dollars to get something like this passed. The NFL would not have been interested in coming unless it had the support at the grassroots level. They hired a lobbying firm in Boise and we gave them any support, anything they needed us to do, from writing letters to providing background information to soliciting statewide support and testifying before the legislature in person."

Following the passage of the concussion bill, the Center for Sports Concussion at ISU, with the help of additional funding from Portneuf Medical Center, spearheaded the statewide effort to help schools and sports programs implement the new law. The Center is housed in the ISU College of Education's Department of Sports Science and Physical Education.

The Center's main objectives are to offer educational outreach on concussion identification and management practices and to facilitate baseline and post-concussion neurocognitive testing to athletes participating in sports programs throughout eastern Idaho. It also encourages research in the area.

Since fall 2010, Fauré and the Center have helped distribute more than 40,000 information packets on concussion throughout the United States and Canada; have tested between 2,500 to 3,000 athletes for concussion in Southeast Idaho; and have delivered nearly 100 seminars on sport concussion throughout the region and the United States.

"We're an educational resource for schools. We teach people how to identify and manage concussions," Fauré said. "We don't manage them. We're not running a clinic. We just want to provide the right resources and provide the tools they need to make their jobs much easier. It's all about education."

More information on Idaho's concussion law and on the Center for Sports Concussion is available at www.knowconcussion.org.