Concussion legislation for young athletes up for approval

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New legislation out of the Ohio Senate is aimed at preventing the long-term consequences of brain injury sustained during youth sports. As early as the upcoming season, young athletes may be required to be immediately removed from a game or practice if they show signs of concussion under state law. Young people will not be allowed to return to the field or court unless cleared by a qualified physician.

The new measure comes in the wake of legal action against the National Football League and other major athletic bodies concerning the treatment of concussions. Public focus has turned to preventing the increasing danger of brain injury among athletes of all ages. The concussion law, House Bill 143, would also require educational initiatives that could inform parents, coaches and athletes about the physical dangers of concussion.

Healthcare professionals throughout the state are praising the measure for its attention to young athletes’ brain health. The law is important because of the potential long-term consequences associated with concussion. Some people suffer slight mood swings for just a few days, but others experience significant brain damage and cognitive deficits because of the injury.

The law would require state health organizations to draft educational materials for sports participants and their families or guardians. Athletes and parents would be required to review the material and sign an acknowledgment before they begin playing for the season. Coaches would also be trained to recognize signs of brain injury in their players.

The bill is still in the process of making its way through the House, according to media reports, before it can land on the governor’s desk for final approval. Representatives with coaching backgrounds say they fully support the educational measures included in the bill. As such, many coaches are unaware that brain injuries can cause such long-term health effects.

The law could also bolster the ability of injured players to recover damages if their coaches continue to allow them to play after concussions.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Ohio Senate passes student-athlete concussion bill,” Jim Siegel, Dec. 5, 2012.