Georgia this week became the 46th state (along with the District of Columbia) to have a youth-concussion law.
The new Georgia youth-concussion law, signed by Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday, contains all three major provisions of the National Football League’s model legislation, Washington state’s Lystedt Law. The Georgia law requires parents to sign a concussion-information form before their child can participate in sports; any student-athlete suspected of a concussion while playing sports must be immediately removed from practice or a competition; and any student-athlete who sustains a concussion must obtain medical clearance from a health-care provider before returning.
“Even the mildest bump or blow to the head can lead to a concussion,” said the governor in a statement. “I am proud to sign this bill that serves to protect Georgia’s young athletes from sustaining very serious injuries if the condition goes unnoticed or untreated. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that should never be overlooked, and we all need to know the symptoms to look for.”
The law extends past traditional private schools to cover student-athletes in private and charter schools. It also requires any public recreation facilities that offer youth sports to provide a concussion-information form to parents at the time they register their child for an athletic activity. The recreation facilities aren’t required to follow the state’s policy regarding removing youth-athletes suspected of a concussion from play, but the law strongly encourages such facilities to follow all three components regardless.
Two other states might not be far behind Georgia in terms of passing youth-concussion legislation.
In Montana, a youth-concussion bill awaits Gov. Steve Bullock’s signature after being passed by the state Senate on April 11.
Like Georgia’s new law, the Montana bill contains all three of the major provisions of youth-concussion legislation. It also requires mandatory annual concussion training for coaches, athletic trainers, and sports officials. If signed by the governor, it would go into effect immediately.
In West Virginia, youth-concussion legislation also awaits Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s signature after being passed by the state House on April 13.
The West Virginia bill largely mirrors Montana’s. It contains all three of the key provisions of youth-concussion legislation and requires all head sports coaches in middle and high schools to complete an annual concussion-training course.
If Montana and West Virginia both sign their youth-concussion legislation into law, only two states would be left without measures: South Carolina and Mississippi. A youth-concussion bill was referred to the South Carolina Senate committee on education on March 21 after the bill unanimously passed the House the day before. Mississippi, meanwhile, has no such legislation pending. (Three separate youth-concussion bills all failed in committees during this legislative session.)
As always, keep up with the latest updates by checking our youth-concussion-law map.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.