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Student Well-Being

Student-Athlete Concussion Roundup: Three More States Advance Legislation

By Bryan Toporek — June 15, 2011 3 min read
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School may be out for summer, but the behind-the-scenes ed. policy work continues for many states. Here’s a look at three states currently tackling student-athlete concussion legislation.

In Rhode Island: The state Senate Committee on Education recommended the passage of legislation on Tuesday that would encourage baseline concussion tests for all student-athletes. (Looks like somebody read my post from last week.)

The bill

would encourage schools to put all student-athletes through a baseline neurological test before the start of the season to measure their typical cognitive level. If a student-athlete was suspected of a concussion, he/she would retake the test, and doctors would compare the results of the two tests.

A former version of the bill would have made the baseline tests mandatory; the version passed by the Senate panel reduces the severity of the language.

The proposed bill would also require coaches and volunteers involved in a youth sport to undergo annual training in recognizing concussions and traumatic brain injuries. And, much like every other concussion bill being passed across the U.S., student-athletes suspected of a concussion would be removed from competition and would need medical clearance before returning to play.

The bill is now being moved to the full Senate for consideration.

In New York: The state legislature passed a bill on Tuesday that would direct the state’s commissioners of education and health to craft regulations for the treatment and monitoring of concussed student-athletes.

The state’s Department of Health would be required to post the following on its website, under the new legislation: the definition of a concussion, signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries, causes of concussions, and return-to-play guidelines for concussed student-athletes.

Under the bill, all school coaches, phys. ed. teachers, nurses, and athletic trainers would have to receive concussion-awareness training on a biennial basis. Much like Rhode Island’s bill, New York student-athletes suspected of a concussion would be forced to exit competition and receive medical clearance before returning to play. The student would also have to be symptom-free for 24 hours before returning to play.

The bill also authorizes schools and districts to establish a concussion-management team (if they so choose), which could include the athletic director, a school nurse, the school physician, any interscholastic coach, and an athletic trainer. The concussion-management team would be responsible for managing the implementation of a concussion-response program.

With the bill’s passage on Tuesday, it now heads to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In Illinois: The state House passed a bill on June 3 that’s similar in principle to those bills in Rhode Island and New York.

Student-athletes who may have suffered concussions would immediately be required to leave competition and obtain a doctor’s approval before returning to play. Before the start of a student-athlete’s interscholastic season, the student-athlete and his/her parents would have to sign an agreement that spells out the school’s concussion policy.

The bill would require the Illinois High School Association to make educational materials about concussions available to all school districts. Those districts, in turn, would have to use those materials to educate coaches, student-athletes, and parents/guardians about the risks of concussions.

What’s somewhat unusual about this bill: It would authorize and encourage any park district to make these educational materials about concussions available to all residents and users of the park district, including youth-athletic programs. Unlike schools, which would be required to adhere to these new concussion guidelines, out-of-school sports programs wouldn’t be held to the same standard.

After passing the state House, the bill has moved onto Gov. Pat Quinn for final approval.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.