Wednesday, September 29, 2010

House OKs Concussion Bill

Pennsylvania lawmakers are taking action to address the growing concern about concussions in sports. The Safety in Youth Sports Act, sponsored by Democratic Representative Tim Briggs of Montgomery County, aims at preventing serious brain trauma and to better monitor concussions in middle and high school aged athletes. He said its especially important to not shrug off brain injuries.

He said the bill was inspired by a bill passed by the Washington State legislature and his own experiences with his 8 year old son playing football.

Concussion trained medical professionals must release in writing any injured athlete to return to their sport. Briggs said it was important to change the mentality of "getting back in the game" or "shaking it off."

The Department of Health, The Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association, physicians and medical professionals from UPMC were involved in crafting the language.

The act calls for the state Departments of Health and Education to develop educational guidelines about injuries in school sports, including risks associated with continuing to play or practice after a concussion or head injury. Each student and parent/guardian must sign a form attesting that they know about the risks. There is also a mandate that all schools hold informational meetings regarding the risk of brain injuries and concussions. All new coaches must take an online course and be certified in concussion management training. It would penalize non-abiding coaches.

The measure now moves to the Senate.

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