Bill would teach young athletes, parents about dangerous of concussions
COLUMBUS - Young athletes and their parents would be educated about the harmful effects of concussions and young athletes would be allowed to return to play only after being cleared by a licensed physician or athletic trainer, under a bill unveiled at the Ohio Statehouse today. The sponsors are State Rep. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Rep. Sean O'Brien (D-Brookfield).
"Keeping our young athletes safe has to be our top priority," said Rep. Stinziano. "It is clear that risks associated with concussions are greatest when the brain is still developing so great care must be taken."
"Awareness is the pivotal component of this legislation," said Rep. O'Brien. "Educating coaches and parents on concussion symptoms will lead to better treatment and increase the likelihood of a successful recovery."
Millions of young kids participate in organized sports in this country every year and emergency rooms are dealing with a growing number of concussions and head injuries among children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency departments treat an estimated 135,000 sports and recreation related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children ages 5 to 18 every year. Children and teens are also more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.
- Requires a parent or guardian to sign an information sheet stating that they have reviewed the information provided regarding brain injuries as prepared by the Dept. of Health before that student athlete can participate in practice.
- Requires a coach or organization official to remove a student from play immediately if suspected of having a brain injury. A student athlete who is removed from play due to a suspected brain injury must be cleared by a physician or athletic trainer before returning to play.
- Defines a youth sports organization and requires them to follow standards for removing an athlete suspected of having a head injury. The legislation defines a youth sports organization as public or nonpublic entity that organizes an athletic activity in which the athletes are age nineteen or younger and are required to pay a fee to participate in the athletic activity or whose cost to participate is sponsored by a business or nonprofit.
Simple medical guidelines or rules for just high school and middle school student athletes are not enough, the lawmakers say.
"Guidelines are a second best alternative but they risk sporadic or inconsistent awareness and enforcement in different regions in a state," Rep. Stinziano said.
The bill is similar to the rules already in place through the Ohio High School Athletic Association, but broadens the protection for young people by including coaches and athletes participating in youth sports organizations not affiliated with the OHSAA.
Nine states have already passed similar legislation with overwhelming support. The states that have passed youth concussion legislation are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington
The National Football League and Commissioner Roger Goodell have voiced support for legislation all across the country that seeks to protect youth athletes from concussions.
"We thank Representatives Stinziano and O'Brien for their leadership on what we in the NFL consider important legislation on a crucial subject," says Joe Browne, Senior Advisor to the NFL Commissioner. "Today's NFL players are better educated on the dangers of concussions and we believe that youth athletes - both male and female - also should be better educated and protected. This bill does just that."
The bill is being introduced today. It has already received bipartisan support.