Proos: Wellness plan would empower students with information about health, concussions

LANSING – State Sen. John Proos introduced legislation Tuesday that would require school boards in Michigan to adopt a wellness policy including information on proper nutrition, physical activity and concussion awareness.

Under Proos’ measure a school’s wellness plan would include guidelines to educate coaches, student athletes and parents about the nature and risk of concussion and head injury during athletic activity. If adopted, Michigan would become the 29th state to require school districts to establish a set of guidelines which includes concussion awareness.

“The number of students suffering concussions during an extracurricular athletic activity is rising at an alarming rate and is absolutely impacting many students right here in Southwest Michigan,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I sponsored this bill to help ensure that coaches, players and parents all have information on concussions that may help everyone identify the symptoms – which may prevent catastrophic and permanent brain damage that can occur as an athlete takes another impact.”

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 approved, Proos’ reform would also require a school’s wellness policy to promote healthy habits among its students.

“With more than 12 percent of children and 31 percent of adults in Michigan considered obese, our state has become the eighth most overweight state in the nation,” Proos said. “Obesity currently costs Michigan’s economy billions of dollars in annual medical expenses. My bill is about being proactive to help turn this tide without burdening schools with increased costs.  Becoming a healthier Michigan will improve our lives and our economy and it starts with promoting healthy habits in our children.”