Senate unanimously approves Proos’ concussion awareness bill

LANSING – Legislation to protect young athletes by educating coaches of youth sports organizations, including schools, and requiring them to adopt a concussion awareness program was approved Thursday by the Michigan Senate, said sponsor Sen. John Proos.

“Nationwide and throughout Michigan, we hear more and more about tragic deaths and debilitating brain injuries that are suspected to be linked to concussions,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The number of children suffering sports-related concussions is rising at an alarming rate – impacting the lives of many young people. It is time to acknowledge the seriousness of concussions in youth sports and set guidelines to ensure child safety is always the top priority.”

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 and an NFL representative both testified in support of the bill earlier in May, telling policymakers about the impacts of concussions and the need to address them at all levels of sport.

Under Senate Bill 1122, a concussion awareness program would include training and distribution of educational materials for parents and athletes. A youth suspected of sustaining a concussion would 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.

A Brown University study showed that from 1997 to 2007, the number of sports-related concussions among student-athletes ages 13-19 tripled from about 7,000 to 22,000. Doctors now estimate that as many as 30,000 sports-related concussions occur in the U.S. every year, and far too many of these types of injuries are going unreported.

If SB 1122 is also approved by the House, Michigan would become the 36th state to pass legislation to require young sport agencies to establish a set of concussion awareness guidelines.

“I sponsored this bill to help ensure everyone involved in youth sports can recognize these injuries when they occur and act in the athlete’s best interest – especially if an injury occurs without medical professionals present, like at practice,” Proos said. “As a father of three children, each involved in multiple sports and physical activities, my goal is to always put the health of our young athletes first.”

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Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”