2012-11-01 / Community

Law aims to prevent youth concussions

LANSING – Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed legislation to protect young athletes from sportsrelated concussions.

More than 140,000 high-school athletes sustain a concussion each year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. The brain does not fully mature until people are in their mid-20s, and damage from multiple or untreated concussions can be severe. More than half of the states already have enacted laws to protect against youth concussions, and many others have legislation in the works.

“Research consistently has shown that concussions are a serious health threat to athletes,” Snyder said. “Coaches and parents need to be proactive in recognizing the signs of a concussion so we can protect injured children and teens from any further complications.”

The governor signed two bills to inform students, coaches and parents on how to recognize a concussion. Senate Bill 1122, sponsored by state Sen. John Proos, requires the Michigan Department of Community Health to develop both educational materials and a concussion awareness program.

“As a father of three children, each involved in multiple sports and physical activities, my goal with this legislation was to ensure the health of our young athletes is always the top priority,” Proos said. “With the number of children suffering sports-related concussions rising at an alarming rate, we must help ensure parents, coaches and athletes can recognize the symptoms of these injuries and act in the athlete’s best interest.”

House Bill 5697, sponsored by state Rep. Thomas Hooker, requires that all youth sports coaches, employees and volunteers participate in the concussion awareness program, as well as provide the educational materials to athletes. Coaches also must immediately remove any youth athlete suspected of having sustained a concussion from competition, and only allow their return with written clearance from a health professional.

“As a former football and wrestling coach, I am proud to focus efforts to help protect young people from traumatic brain injuries caused by concussions,” Hooker said. “Our goal is to make Michigan a safe place to play sports.”

The bills now are Public Acts 342 and 343 of 2012.

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