A concussion is considered a mild traumatic brain injury and can cause harmful, long-term effects to brain functions. My ‘Concussion Management and Awareness Act,’ which was signed into law last fall, is now in effect.
The law establishes head concussion guidelines, and seeks to ensure the safety of student-athletes. The bill took effect July 1.
With the fall athletic season just a few months away, the chances of student-athletes receiving concussions in sports like football is always of great concern. Unfortunately, many concussions are left untreated since the symptoms are not always quickly identified.
If left untreated, a concussion could cause permanent brain damage or death. Young athletes, children and teens are more likely than adults to suffer a concussion, and their recovery time is longer.
The new law requires coaches, physical education teachers and other appropriate school personnel to be trained about the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries and the importance of proper medical treatment. It also requires the State Education Department, the Department of Health, and school districts to post information on their websites for parents and students on how brain injuries occur, the signs and symptoms of such injuries, and guidelines about returning to school, physical education classes and sports after an injury.
This information will also be included in the permission and consent forms which parents or a person in a parental relationship with a student must sign to allow their child to participate in sports.
The law further mandates the immediate removal of any student who has, or who may have, suggered a concussion. The student may not return to athletic activities unless he/she has been symptom-free for a minimum of 24 hours, and a licensed physician has authorized the student’s return.
These policies will promote prevention of injury and ensure students receive the appropriate medical attention and treatment when they receive any kind of head injury. This will reduce the risk of long-term complications and will encourage parents, students and coaches to take preventative steps to avoid such significant injuries.