Following fast on the heels of Oregon, Washington, Maine, and New Jersey, the Virginia General Assembly recently gave their approval to a bill that requires high school student athletes to receive doctor approval before returning to play after showing signs of suffering a concussion, a Washington Post article noted.
The article also noted that a Virginia state senator sponsored the bill as a reaction to studies that revealed severe damage taking place in students who had suffered multiple concussions in high school sports. These same results have been observed in military personnel who were returned to combat too quickly after suffering brain injuries.
A study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, Ohio at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital found ‘last year that more than 40 percent of high school concussion sufferers return to the field too quickly,’ the Post reported. The NFL has undergone recent changes to their concussion policy as well, after researchers made it clear that multiple concussions often lead to serious long-term debilitating effects on the brain and well being of concussion sufferers.
The new legislation in Virginia means that student players will be removed from games immediately if a brain injury is suspected, and cannot return to play until approved by a doctor after a thorough examination has taken place. The bill, SB 652, is currently waiting to be signed into law by Robert F. McDonnell, Virginia’s governor, the article said. 12 other states are currently considering similar legislation.
In addition to making the response to concussion symptoms more robust, SB 652 will also require ‘local education boards to write guidelines about dealing with concussions for their school divisions, student athletes and parents to review annually,’ said the Post. The article further noted that youth athletes who suffer from concussions require about three weeks to fully recover, on average. However, sometimes more recovery time is necessary, which necessitates individual assessment by trained professionals.
Officials hope that the new law will help to raise awareness among students, teachers, coaches, and parents. In addition, it is hoped that the law will reduce some of the pressure to return to play after suffering an injury.
Helderman, Rosalind. (March 12, 2010) ‘Virginia bill protects high school student athletes with head injuries.’ Retreived on March 12, 2010 from the Washington Post Web site:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/11/AR201003…