9 Years Later, Zackery Lystedt Law Still Protects Young Athletes
Video: Watch ESPN's documentary explaining the Zackery Lystedt Law – and how it has spread concussion awareness across the United States since it was passed in 2009.
With fall sports gearing up, Matthew Daggy MD, a Sports Medicine doctor at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital, reminds student-athletes, parents and coaches of Zack Lystedt, a high school football player who sustained a life-altering brain injury in 2006. Dr. Daggy isn’t advising kids not to play sports, but he strongly encourages all participants and spectators to know the symptoms of concussions and the importance of following return-to-play guidelines.
Zack Lystedt Shared His Story with the World – and Now It’s Saving Lives
In October of 2006, 13-year-old Zack Lystedt hit his head while making a tackle. The game took an injury timeout. No one knew he’d suffered a concussion, and minutes later he returned to the game, ESPN reported in its original coverage.
After the game, as Zack and his dad were walking away from the field, Zack collapsed and was air cared to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, where he spent the next 93 days.
“He had a bleed on the right and left side of the brain that was compressing his brain, and that required them not only to take off the bone on each side of his brain and leave it out, but actually take out the blood clot,” Richard Ellenbogen MD, Zack’s neurosurgeon, told ESPN.
Zack's Family Vowed to Spread Concussion Awareness
It took Zack nine months to re-learn how to speak; however, his cognitive function remained intact. After spending countless hours in rehabilitation, he even walked across the stage to receive his diploma during high school graduation in 2011.
The years that passed after Zack’s brain injury were nothing short of a nightmare for Zack's family, but he and his parents vowed something good would come of it. They promised themselves they’d work to spare other families from their experience – and thus, the Zackery Lystedt Law, passed in 2009, was born.
According to the law, if a kid is suspected of having a concussion, he must be removed from play and can only return if and when he or she has been cleared by a licensed healthcare professional.
“No one knew Zack has a concussion,” Dr. Daggy comments. “But, if he was taken out after that initial hit, we would’ve never talked about his story. His family campaigned and spearheaded, and there’s a lot more concussion awareness because of that.”