Maple Valley middle schooler Zackery Lystedt suffered a permanent brain injury in 2006 when, following a concussion, he was allowed to continue playing in a school football game and suffered further blows to the head. He underwent two brain surgeries and still spends almost 40 hours a week in physical, occupational, and speech therapy, but he is using his rediscovered voice to advocate for others. Lystedt inspired Washington leaders to pass a 2009 law mandating education about sports concussions, removing injured youth athletes from play and practice and requiring a licensed health care professional’s okay before returning. Since then, the Washington coalition, joined by the National Football League and the American College of Sports Medicine, has lobbied to enact similar laws in every state. So far, 37 states and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation. “Washington has been the template for other states and we made a difference in national public health policy,” says Dr. Stanley Herring, co–medical director of Seattle Sports Concussion Program and a Seattle Seahawks team physician. He phones the Lystedt family to celebrate the passage of every new law and their help in making Washington a leader in concussion prevention.
This article appeared in the August 2012 issue of Seattle Met.