AKRON, Ohio - Under Ohio's new concussion law, which went into effect in April, medical doctors are the only ones independently able to give clearance to athletes sidelined by a head injury or concussion.
Now, chiropractors want that same authority.
"I have 400 plus hours of learning how to diagnose. I have 146 hours of neurology. I have hundreds of hours of orthopedics and spinal care, etc. I am very well trained to manage these cases and determine when a return to play is warranted," said chiropractor Dr. Chris Raymond.
A provision in the state's budget bill, House Bill 59, would grant chiropractors the independent authority to make that call. Currently, they can return athletes to play, but only in consultation with medical doctors, a plan many medical doctors feel works best.
"So, for making decisions about when they can be returned, particularly younger athletes, we want to have those done at places that have the most tools available to them to make the best diagnosis about whether the brain is fully recovered and those generally would be in concussion centers," said Dr. Joseph Congeni, Sports Medicine Director at Akron Children's Hospital.
Both doctors agree concussions are complex diagnoses that, if treated improperly, can further harm a person, especially if returned to play too soon.
"That is an obligation of any given provider; chiropractor, medical doctor, osteopath, physical therapist. Whatever the profession, you constantly have to stay up on your education because this is constantly evolving. It changes every day," Dr. Raymond said.
"Because of what we've learned in the last 10 years of research, there is definitely long term effect from concussions that are being mistreated, under treated or missed completely. We have to do the best we possibly can to make sure that we recognized and manage concussions appropriately at the front end of this," Dr. Congeni said.
House Bill 59 has been approved by the Ohio House and Ohio Senate and is now in conference committee where the provision may stay or be pulled. The deadline is June 30th.