Hearings Focus on Concussions in Mass. Schools

A survey of self-reporting found over 4,400 concussions in Massachusetts students last year. What school your child attends could determine if and how your child will be diagnosed with a concussion. NBC Boston Investigators looked at two private schools with two different outcomes.

Several bills are making their way through the state house, focusing on kids and concussions. That includes H1155, authored by State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier to create a commission to study concussions at private and public schools.

Two young women, former soccer players, took center stage at the state house as part of a series of hearings Tuesday.

"I'm 21 years old and I'm a six-year brain injury survivor," Madeline Uretsky said boldly.

"When I got my big hit, I lost all my memories of my childhood," Sarah Lepsepich, now 18, explained.

Lepsepich was 12 at the time of her injury. Between them, there are six concussions. Both went to private high schools in Massachusetts, and both suffered from traumatic brain injuries.

"They didn't have any baseline testing, so I wasn't removed from the game," Lepsepich said of her high school. "I should have never been on the field that day."

That's because not all schools belong to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, meaning they don't have to follow the MIAA concussion return to play guidelines. Lepsepich's school did not, but Uretsky's did.

"I went to a private high school here in Massachusetts that does comply with MIAA laws -- but I testified today because there are some schools that don't have laws to protect student athletes from getting concussions or second concussions on top of that," explained Uretsky.

She recalled, "I was bedridden for three straight months in the dark. I was sleeping 16 hours a day. I had no memory, I had trouble walking and reading."

The then-16-year-old former athlete was diagnosed with the cognitive level of a 5-year-old. Six years later, she still has daily headaches.

A physical therapist also testified in favor of a test to be done on the sidelines involving a computer testing the reaction of a child's pupil to help diagnose a concussion. 

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