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Health Mind & Body
Enhanced law offers protection for student athletes
Monday, February 17, 2014 10:00 AM
It was a no-brainer last month when the Indiana Senate voted to approve a bill that would add protection for high school athletes who have or may have suffered a concussion.
The state Senate was acting to strengthen a law passed in 2011 that was aimed at protecting high school athletes from the catastrophic results of taking a blow to the head.
Those results are scary, as we have seen most especially in football players and boxers who - later in life, but sometimes not that much later - have developed cognitive and other problems related to brain injuries.
About 62,000 concussions are sustained each year in high school contact sports.
The Indiana law, passed three years ago, says any athlete suspected of having a concussion must be removed from play immediately and not be allowed to return to play or practice until cleared to do so by a "licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions and head injuries." A written clearance must be issued.
The law also required schools to begin, in 2012, to reveal risks of brain injuries, each sports season, to parents and athletes.
The updates that have passed the Senate 45-1 will make a good law even better.
Those updates require that 24 hours must pass after an athlete was removed from play before he or she can return to action.
A second part of the new bill places more responsibility on football coaches and assistant coaches. It would require those coaches to complete a sport-specific education course, at least every two years, that can help them better deal with possible concussions and other health and safety issues.
Coaches should readily agree to such education and testing just because it is in the best interests of their athletes.
The bill eventually will go to the House of Representatives for consideration there.
The bill needs to quickly get to Gov. Mike Pence for his signature.
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