Legislation tackles concussions

By Marc Kovac



Student athletes and coaches would have to be cleared by a doctor or trainer before returning to play after a suspected brain injury under legislation being introduced by state lawmakers.

The bill is comparable to law changes made or being considered in other states to increase awareness and treatment of concussions.

“Awareness is the pivotal component of this legislation, educating coaches and parents on concussion symptoms,” said Rep. Sean O’Brien of Brookfield, D-65th, a bill co-sponsor. “This will lead to better treatment and increase the likelihood of successful recovery.”

The bill, which will be introduced later this week, would require parents or guardians to read and sign off on information sheets on brain injuries before students can participate in sports practices.

Additionally, coaches or officials would have to remove students from practice or play immediately if a brain injury is suspected.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has similar rules in place, but the legislation would expand the requirements to cover coaches and youths 19 or younger involved in public or private sporting organizations outside of schools.

“On average, nearly 4,000 Ohio youth are treated in emergency departments each year, and the number continues to be on the rise,” said Rep. Michael Stinziano, a Democrat from Columbus and the bill’s other sponsor.

“If a coach or a parent is not properly educated on the symptoms of concussion or brain injury, it is likely the injury will go untreated.”

The National Football League supports the legislation.

“In the NFL, we believe that we are changing the culture on concussions,” said Joe Browne, senior adviser to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Today’s players and the coaches know a great deal more about the symptoms and the dangers of concussions and other head injuries.”

He added, “On this concussion issue, we want to make participation fun and safe for all athletes, no matter their gender or age.”

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