Governor commemorates law to reduce concussions in youth sports

WESTPORT– Joined by students, lawmakers and advocates, Governor Dannel P. Malloy soccer ballMonday visited Staples High School where he commemorated the enactment of legislation that requires the State Board of Education to develop a plan aimed at reducing the number of concussions and addressing the proper procedures following concussions experienced by students during school athletics.

As mandated in Public Act 14-66, the concussion education plan will be used by local and regional boards of education, which will be responsible for implementing the plan using written materials, online training or videos, or in-person training. In addition, the law requires school districts to annually collect and report all incidences of concussions to the State Board of Education.

“This is common sense legislation that will help protect our children,” said Malloy, according to a press release from his office. “We want our students to achieve the highest levels of physical, behavioral and educational success.  This bill will help ensure that parents, coaches and student athletes will all be better prepared to identify and respond to concussions.”

In 2013, the release said, 13.5 percent of high school students self-reported getting a concussion during sports.

“The health and safety of our students is of the utmost concern for state, local and school leaders. Concussions pose a serious risk for students—especially our athletes. That’s why we must ensure that the content of our training courses keeps pace with the emerging research and science regarding concussion prevention, recognition and subsequent care to reduce the incidence and lasting effects on our youngsters,” Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said, according to the press release. “We are grateful to Governor Malloy, legislators, parents and professionals who saw the importance of this issue and brought this important policy to fruition.”

The legislation requires that coaches immediately remove a student from participating in athletic activity when that student-athlete shows signs of a concussion or has been diagnosed with a concussion. To return, the injured student must receive written clearance from a licensed health care professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussions.

“It is vitally important that we do our best to ensure the safety of Connecticut’s student athletes as they pursue both a physical and academic education,” said Senator Danté Bartolomeo, co-chair of the Legislature’s Children’s Committee, the press release reported. “The law we passed this year will help coaches, parents, and athletes treat concussions like the serious, life-altering injuries they can be. The educational resources provided through this Public Act will promote the early identification of concussion symptoms, allowing for proper treatment of the injury so that athletes can make a quick and complete recovery and return to practice when it is safe to do so.”

“Getting this legislation done is a direct result of ‘Mom Power,’” said Representative Diana Urban, co-chair of the Legislature’s Children’s Committee, according to the news release from the governor’s office. “Three moms cared deeply about getting the best concussion law in place to protect our kids. Senator Bartolomeo and I were thrilled to work with them. They were with us every step of the way. It was an honor and a pleasure to have them at our side as we made our state a safer place for all our student athletes.”

An advisory group convened by the State Department of Education is working to update the existing training course that pertains to concussions to reflect current science. The course is required in order to receive a coaching permit for intramural or interscholastic sports. The group, which includes representatives of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Association (CIAC); the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS); the State Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Connecticut Athletic Trainers Association (CATA), will similarly update the refresher training course and annual review materials. The group has solicited and received input from various stakeholders including the Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); the Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut; and the Parents’ Concussion Coalition.

The Parents Concussion Coalition stated, according to the press release, “We greatly appreciate the unanimous support for this concussion law from the House, Senate and Governor Malloy.  Connecticut’s outdated concussion law needed to be updated to reflect the emerging science and best practices.  The cornerstone of any concussion management program begins with education and with this legislation; all high school parents, athletes and coaches will be educated. This is a good start, but we must continue to be diligent to ensure that all of Connecticut’s youth are better protected.”

The legislation also establishes a legislatively convened task force to study occurrences of concussions in youth athletics and to make recommendations for possible legislative initiatives to address concussions.

 

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