Framingham man pushes revised bill that seeks to prevent head injuries

Lindsey Parietti

After unsuccessfully pushing for helmets for soccer players last year, a Framingham resident renewed his calls for a statewide sports injury commission at the State House yesterday. 

“I’m in prevention mode right now … the more head injuries we have, the more we’re going to have to spend on rehabilitation,” said Framingham resident Robert Edwards, 57, who suffered a brain injury as a toddler from a non-sports-related fall. 

Edwards said that removing the soccer head gear requirement will give his bill -- which would have lawmakers and medical professionals track sports injuries in elementary, middle and high school athletes -- a better chance of passing in 2008. 

The revised bill no longer includes controversial language that would ban student soccer players from using their heads to hit the ball.  

Rep. Pam Richardson, D-Framingham, who sponsored the bill on Edwards’ behalf, cautioned about the monetary and other costs of compiling the data, including the possibility of giving contact sports a negative image.

“We want to be very sensitive that it might deter children from sports, especially at a time when we are trying to encourage physical activity,” said Richardson, adding that she hopes the committee will give the bill a favorable report.

Edwards said that he requested sports injury data from all Massachusetts school districts, but only Ashland, Barnstable and Springfield responded.  

During the 2006-07 school year Ashland High School athletes suffered six concussions.  

Pamela Bush, spokeswoman for the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, said that one in 10 high school athletes suffers a head injury from playing contact sports, and, nationally, there are 300,000 sport-related concussions each year.

“Increased awareness of the magnitude of the problem is really important. Its not just high school students, it’s many of our middle school and elementary school students who are sustaining the injuries as well,” she said.

Bush said the association, of which Edwards is a longtime member, supports any bill that increases public knowledge and draws attention to the problem.

Daily News staff writer Lindsey Parietti can be reached at