Ohio lawmakers seek to protect kids from concussions

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In the wake of a recent NFL suit alleging significant injuries associated with repeated head trauma, a newly introduced bill in the Ohio legislature proposes to institute more stringent laws to protect children from sports-related concussions. The measure was submitted by State Representative Michael Stinziano (D), who said that sports injuries accounted for a whopping 15 percent of adolescent brain injuries in the state during the past calendar year.

Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to long-term effects from sports-related concussions, according to legislators, primarily because their brains are still developing.

Currently, very few restrictions protect sports players in youth leagues throughout the state. The bill would cut down on long-term ramifications associated with hard hits to the head, and it also is expected to reduce medical costs associated with such injuries. The bill is a part of a continued nationwide effort to improve awareness of traumatic brain injuries among young Americans.

First, the bill would require additional education for coaches about children’s risk for traumatic brain injuries. The second part of the bill would require physician or trainer clearance before a child is permitted to return to a game after a hit to the head. This would also apply to many youth-league sports teams, which fall outside the purview of state school regulations at this time.

Lawmakers have also encouraged parents of athletes to educate themselves about the risks associated with sports during adolescence. Even though death after concussions is relatively rare, physicians say they are not entirely certain about the long-term effects of continued brain impact in youth.

Opponents of the measure worry that volunteer coaches with the YMCA and other youth leagues would be exposed to significantly more liability than they have been in the past. Lawmakers say they have worked closely with those groups, though, and they have reached a satisfactory conclusion for all parties. Both sides believe that the proposal will protect children without imposing an undue burden on volunteer coaches and referees.

The bill will be considered during the next two weeks in the legislative session, say lawmakers.

Source: NBC4i.com, “Ohio bill aims to protect kids from concussions while playing sports,” Nadia Bashir, May 3, 2012