LANSING – Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation on Tuesday to protect young athletes by educating coaches of youth sports organizations, including schools, and requiring them to adopt a concussion awareness program, said sponsor Sen. John Proos.
“This is about emphasizing the seriousness of concussions, which impact the lives of thousands of young people each year,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “We must help inform parents, coaches and athletes about concussions and what is in the athlete’s best interest. A concussion is difficult to identify, so it is critical to ensure athletes understand the gravity of this type of injury and that we set guidelines that err on the side of caution so that a child’s health is always put first.”
Public Acts 342 and 343 of 2012 require the creation of a concussion awareness program that includes training and distribution of educational materials for coaches, parents and athletes. A youth suspected of sustaining a concussion will be required to be immediately removed from activity and would not be able to return until he or she had been evaluated by a health professional and received written clearance to play.
“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 National Football League (NFL) is leading an effort to get similar legislation passed in all 50 states and Congress. Detroit Lions team president Tom Lewand attended the bill signing and thanked Proos and Snyder for their leadership in addressing concussions in youth sports.
“What the NFL and the Detroit Lions are working to establish is a standard of care across the country, so that youth athletes, coaches and volunteers are knowledgeable enough to recognize the signs of concussion and kids get the medical attention they need to recover before returning to play,” said Lewand.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, more than 140,000 high school athletes are estimated to suffer a concussion each year. Ohio State University data show that high school football has the highest rate of overall concussions at 6.94 per 10,000 athletes participating in school-sponsored activities from 2008-2011, followed by ice hockey at 6.11, boys’ lacrosse at 4.21 and girls’ soccer at 3.83.
“As a father of three children, each involved in multiple sports and physical activities, my goal with this legislation was to ensure that the health of our young athletes is always the top priority,” Proos said. “While this initiative is designed for youth sports, education about concussions will also benefit parents off the field. People focus on football injuries, but accidents while bicycling and playing on the playground rank first and third in the number of brain injury ER visits.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of emergency room visits by youth suffering from sports- or recreation-related concussions or other traumatic brain injury increased by 62 percent from 2001 to 2009. To learn more about concussions and to download a free online “Heads Up” toolkit, visit www.cdc.gov/concussion.
Editor’s Note: A print-quality is available by visiting Sen. Proos’ website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Photowire.”
Audio comments by Proos will also be available this evening on the senator’s webpage under “Podcasts.”