“March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and a good time to help protect young athletes from suffering long-lasting or permanent effects from concussions.”

Dr. Joel Brenner, who directs the Sports Medicine Program at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), opened a March 9, 2010 Virginian-Pilot editorial with this true, but incomplete, statement. As a father of three — one a high school wrestler — and a lawyer who represents brain injury victims, I believe every month, every day, is the right time to protect our youngsters’ developing brains.

I also know I am not alone in recognizing this. The Virginia General Assembly this year passed, and Gov. Bob McDonnell has indicated he will sign, legislation requiring expanded education about and care for concussions in high school sports. Contact sports and athletic pursuits such as cheerleading and gymnastics put children and teens at risk for suffering direct blows to the head and falling and hitting their heads. Car accidents are another leading cause of head and brain injuries, ranging from concussions to internal bleeding and skull fractures.

Severe brain injuries can lead to death or permanent disability almost immediately. Mild traumatic brain injury — the category into which concussions fall — can lead to problems that last a lifetime, especially when an MTBI is poorly treated or recurs. Not every brain injury can be avoided, but all must be guarded against and resolved to the extent possible.