Thursday, June 13, 2013
The unintended consequence of Delaware's concussion law

By Dr. Anthony Policastro Delaware is one of 40 states that has passed what is called a concussion law. These laws are meant to address the issue of concussions suffered during athletic events. There are several basic portions of the law. One piece is education. It involves educating parents, coaches and athletes so the key participants will receive information about the dangers of reentering a sports competition after a head injury. The second part of the law has to do with what happens to a player who has a concussion during a sporting event. If a player has a concussion, the player must be removed from the game and cannot be permitted to return to play. The player must then be cleared by a licensed health care professional before returning to play. All of this is logical. There is, however, an issue related to the law of unintended consequences. Passing a law of this type changes the concept of sports related concussions. They used to be medical problems treated by medical professionals. They are now changed. In the past, not treating a concussion appropriately would have been an error of medical judgment. Now it is changed. Not treating a concussion appropriately is a criminal act. Thus, if a coach fails to remove a player with a possible concussion, he/she would be committing a crime. If a coach sends a player with a concussion back into the game, he/she would be committing a crime. If the parents fail to get the appropriate medical clearance from a licensed health care professional, they would be committing a crime. If a coach allows a player to return without medical clearance, he/she would be committing a crime. Physicians might feel obligated to make sure a child does not have a problem. Concussion evaluations are very difficult. Sometimes, the neurological findings are subtle. There is not a clear cut test to do. For that reason, physicians might feel that they need to do a head CT scan as part of a concussion evaluation. I have written in the past how CT scans in children increase their lifetime risk of developing cancer. Will our attempt to protect them from long term consequences of head injury lead to more cancer in the future? Since the findings are so subtle, there are times when an athlete may appear fine but not be. The athlete may be sent back to play and suffer a further injury. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in concussion evaluations. The law would suggest otherwise. The result is that it is likely to open a whole new avenue of lawsuits for malpractice lawyers. Some families do not have medical insurance for their children. An evaluation for a concussion can be very expensive. That is true if a CT scan is done and if a neurologist is consulted. The result is that they might not allow their children to go back to sports since they cannot afford the evaluation. It is commendable that legislators work hard to protect their constituency. However, it is also sometimes difficult to predict the unintended consequences of legislation. Since we are one of 40 states with this type of law, we are not alone in facing those unintended consequences.

Bayhealth welcomes Dr. Parise Bayhealth Medical Group welcomes family medicine provider Joseph M. Parise, DO. After graduating from the NY College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Parise was an active duty medical officer, flight surgeon and a reserve duty major in the United States Air Force. He has been in medical practice for over 20 years and caring for patients in Dover since 1990. Dr. Parise is a member of the Aerospace Medical Association, Civil Aviation Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, the Kent County Medical Society and the Medical Society of Delaware. The Bayhealth Family Medicine office of Dr. Parise is located at 793 S. Queen St., Dover. To contact the office, call 302-735-8855.

Westcott earns recertification Beebe Medical Center announces that Kim Westcott, MS, RD, LDN, CSO, has earned her recertification as a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CSO), a designation she has held for five years. In 2008, Westcott was the first registered dietitian in Delaware to pass the inaugural Oncology Board Specialty certification exam offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Today, she remains the only registered dietitian in Sussex County with this specialized certification, and one of four registered dietitians in the state of Delaware. Westcott works closely with patients at Tunnell Cancer Center, as well as at Beebe Medical Center. She has been a registered dietitian at Beebe Medical Center since September 1993. She also has a master of science degree in health education.

Bayhealth part of Relay for Life Each spring for the last 15 years, Roxanne Wharton, RTT (R) (T), a Bayhealth radiation therapist, has come up with creative ways to raise money for Relay for Life, the annual team walking event that supports cancer awareness and research. This year, Wharton and her daughter hosted a fundraiser at Jake's Wayback Burgers in Smyrna, in addition to holding their yearly yard sale. Bayhealth staff participated in the Relay for Life of Smyrna/Clayton, Central Delaware and Milford For more information about Relay for Life, visit

Hospice 5K Run & Family Fun Walk Delaware Hospice will celebrate the 5th anniversary of the opening of the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford at its popular 5K Run & Family Fun Walk on Wednesday, July 10. Registration opens at 5:30 p.m., the race begins at 6:30, and the post-event cookout and party will go on until evening. Early registrants will pay $18 for individual entries until July 8. After July 18, individual entries are $20. Team rate for a group of four or family rate for a group of four or more from the same household is $50.

Sponsorships are welcome. There will be medals for winners and door prizes for everyone. For more information, contact Peggy Dolby, assistant director of development, at 856-7717 or

Hospice holds support workshop Delaware Hospice will hold a Family Support Workshop on "Antidotes to the Deadly Impact of Stress" on Friday, June 21, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Center, Milford. Dr. Judy Pierson, clinical psychologist, will present this workshop, which will feature a video produced by PBS called, "Stress: Portrait of a Killer." In the beginning, the stress response saved lives, making us run from predators and enabling us to take down prey. Today, human beings are turning on the same life-saving physical reactions to cope with 30 year mortgages, $4 a gallon gasoline, final exams, and traffic jams. Understanding how stress works can help us figure out ways to combat it and mitigate negative impacts on our health. Family Support Workshops are free and open to the public. Registration is required as seating is limited. Register by Wednesday, June 19, by contacting Vicki Costa at 856-7717, ext. 1129, or

Hospice offers grief workshop Delaware Hospice invites anyone coping with a loss to attend a session, "Tear Soup - Video and Discussion," on Wednesday, June 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Office in Millsboro "Tear Soup," a beautiful video, speaks to every generation about the universality of grief. Tear Soup offers a recipe for healing for anyone who has had a loss or anyone who is supporting someone who has had a loss. During this 90 minute workshop, participants will watch the video and have a follow-up discussion. Handouts will be provided which address loss as it pertains to everyone. There is no fee for this workshop which is provided as a community outreach by Delaware Hospice. Registration is requested by Monday, June 17, by contacting Midge DiNatale, bereavement counselor, at or 302-416-0581.

Asthma Awareness Workshops The Sussex Coalition, Telemon, Department of Public Health, Nemours and the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club are sponsoring Family Fun Nights to facilitate a series of asthma workshops and promote asthma awareness. Family fun night and asthma training workshop will be held on Friday, June 21 from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club in Seaford. Admission, activities (bring a swimsuit) and dinner are free. Presenters include Sheelagh Stewart, Nemours asthma educator; Denese Bell, public health educator and trainer; and Bill Leitzinger, Office of Healthy Environments. For more information, call Troy Hazzard at 302-444-9175 or Cathy Van Sciver at 302-262-9459.

Hospice offers Camp New Hope Delaware Hospice has spaces available at its Camp New Hope, which will be held from Aug. 6-9, at Killens Pond State Park, for children and teens who have suffered the recent loss of a loved one. Since 1990, Delaware Hospice's New Hope program has offered individual and family grief counseling to more than 1,500 children and adolescents aged 6-17. The New Hope program, including Camp New Hope, is a free, community outreach program. New Hope supports children referred from the community as well as members of Delaware Hospice families. Camp New Hope is the annual highlight of the New Hope Program. This inspirational day camp takes place over four days, connecting children in similar age groups in order to help them process their feelings of loss and grief. Many of the children in New Hope have lost a parent, sibling, or grandparent due to illness or sudden death. Learn more about Camp New Hope by contacting New Hope Coordinator for Kent and Sussex Counties, Robin Murphy at 302-678-4444 or

Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group Cadia Rehab Renaissance near Millsboro is hosting and facilitating an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group that meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. All meetings are open to the public and interested parties are invited to attend. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. One person out of eight who reaches the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer's, as will one person out of every two who reaches the age of 85.

CPR classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $45. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.