The Virginia General Assembly recently issued their support of a bill that makes student athletes in high school obtain physician approval before returning to play after exhibiting signs and symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or concussion. The bill has not yet been signed into law by Virginia’s governor, Robert F. McDonnell, but is currently awaiting executive approval. Similar bills have been approved in other states, including Oregon, Maine, New Jersey, and Washington. Twelve other states are presently considering comparable legislation to protect children from the very serious dangers posed by TBI.
The bill, SB 652, was sponsored by Senator Ralph Northam in response to neurological studies that showed serious damage was occurring in the brains of students who had experienced more than one concussion while engaged in high school sports. The bill was welcomed by both sides of the legislature.
The Center for Injury Research and Policy, which is located in Columbus, Ohio and is part of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, discovered that over 40 percent of high school student athletes who suffered a concussion within the past year returned to the sports field too soon after their injuries. It has also been shown that young athletes who experience multiple concussions need an average of about three full weeks in order to recover properly. In instances that require a greater amount of recovery time, trained professionals should perform individual assessments of the student athletes.
Researchers have observed strikingly similar results in military personnel who were deployed for combat too soon after concussions and other mild brain trauma. The same goes for the National Football League (NFL) where the severe debilitating effects are seen to persist over many years. The NFL has no modified their concussion policy in order to protect the brains and well-beings of players who experienced concussions.
Virginia’s new legislation changes the process by which a high school athlete who appears to be suffering from a concussion returns to a game. The law now ensures that student athletes will be taken out of sports games immediately following suspicion that there may be a brain injury. That the player will not be allowed to come back and play until a doctor examines the athlete thoroughly and approves of the student returning to play.
SB 652 does more than simply require a more thorough response to concussion signs in student athletes. The bill also compels local school boards to issue guidelines that are designed to assist student athletes, school departments, and parents in dealing with concussions. Legislators are hoping that the new law will ease some of the pressure that is placed on student athletes to get back in the game after being injured and will boost awareness among coaches, teachers, parents, and students.
If your child was put back in the game too soon after a concussion and suffered serious injuries as a result, contact our office for an evaluation of your case. We may be able to help you file a claim for damages to help pay for your child’s medical treatment.