Student Well-Being

Youth-Concussion Legislation Advancing Through More States

By Bryan Toporek — March 05, 2013 3 min read
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With 2013 state legislative sessions now well under way, a number of states are advancing youth-concussion bills.

In Tennessee, a state which currently has no such law on the books, the state Senate unanimously approved legislation by a 30-0 vote on Feb. 28. The bill requires parents to learn about concussions before their children can participate in extracurricular sports; the immediate removal of any student-athlete suspected of suffering a concussion from play; and student-athletes removed from play due to a suspected concussion to obtain written clearance from a health-care provider before returning to play.

Those three specific characteristics mirror Washington state’s Lystedt Law, which the National Football League considers to be model youth-concussion legislation. Tennessee’s bill also would require coaches and school athletic directors to undergo a concussion-recognition and head-injury-safety course on an annual basis. Only about half the states that already have youth-concussion laws require formal training for coaches and/or other school officials.

Tennessee isn’t the only state currently considering youth-concussion legislation, however. Here’s a roundup of what other states are doing, in alphabetical order:

Arkansas: Like Tennessee, Arkansas is one of the few remaining states without any sort of youth-concussion legislation. A bill filed on March 4 aims to change that.

The bill, which was referred to the state’s joint budget committee on the same day it was introduced, seeks to establish a pilot project on concussion management. The state department of education would be allowed to spend up to $1 million on the new project from its General Improvement Fund.

California: Unlike Arkansas and Tennessee, California enacted its original youth-concussion law back in October 2011. Less than 18 months later, it’s already dealing with a bill seeking amendments.

Legislation introduced on Feb. 20 seeks to add private schools to the mix of those required to follow the state’s youth-concussion protocol. The bill also specifies the minimum of what must be included on the concussion-information sheet distributed to parents and guardians (information regarding concussions and their symptoms).

Kansas: Like California, Kansas has touted a youth-concussion law since 2011. A bill introduced on Feb. 19 of this year only seeks to make a small change to that existing law.

Under the proposed legislation, a “health-care provider” would no longer have to be licensed by the state board of healing arts to be considered someone who can provide medical clearance to a student-athlete with a potential concussion. The provider would, however, still need to be licensed to practice medicine and surgery, a licensed chiropractor, a licensed optometrist, a licensed advanced-practice registered nurse, or a licensed physician’s assistant to qualify as a health-care provider for these purposes.

Kentucky: Kentucky’s youth-concussion law, initially passed last year, is already facing a major amendment in this legislative cycle. A bill introduced on Feb. 19 aims to expand the law’s coverage beyond public schools to “any city, county, urban-county government, charter county government, consolidated local government, unified local government, special district, or any department, board, or agency ... that manages an athletic program.”

Few states’ youth-concussion laws currently apply to all youth-sports organizations, not just schools. (Minnesota is one state that has such a requirement.) The Kentucky bill was referred to the House education committee on Feb. 20, a day after being introduced.

Oregon: Oregon was one of the first states to pass a youth-concussion law, in 2009, but the original law notably does

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