Promoting the safety of athletes

Posted by: Kathryn Frakes  | Friday, August 14, 2015

With school in session, that means football season is right around the corner. As a father of four boys and a coach, I am constantly playing football. Whether it is in our backyard or at school, I always take the proper precautions while coaching to ensure the safety of every player on and off the field. With any sport injuries can occur, so it is important that we raise awareness about heat and other sports-related injuries that are affecting Hoosier athletes.

Last year, legislation that increases safety for our student athletes was signed into law. Essentially, it requires that any high school student athlete who has been removed from playing because of a concussion cannot return to play for at least a full day subsequent to the incident. It also requires coaches of high school football teams to complete a concussions safety course biennially. It is important we ensure athletes are healthy before they can play again while keeping Hoosiers well informed on precautions, symptoms and the proper steps to take once an injury occurs.

A concussion is serious threat that can have a long-lasting effect on the brain. It is considered an “invisible injury” with symptoms that may not become apparent until days or weeks after the injury. Once an athlete sustains a concussion, they are more susceptible to concussions and will have the likelihood of having more. Educating Hoosiers early on can help to decrease the number of these injuries sustained.

Additionally, there is a law that works raise awareness and help student athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and parents recognize symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). As someone who was an athlete growing up, I remember having multiple practices a day in the summer heat. These strenuous activities play a substantial role in heat injuries. By requiring the Department of Education to supply schools with guidelines and information to educate coaches, student athletes and parents of the risks of SCA, we can ensure the safety our children.

I hope that over time, we can expand the requirements to protect student athletes as well as educate Hoosiers in southern Indiana and across the state to take the proper precautions and make the necessary information easily accessible.

Throughout the interim and the next legislative session, I will continue to work towards finding ways to promote the safety of Hoosier athletes. Remember to stay hydrated in the summer heat and continue to educate yourself, and your children, about the possible injuries relating to heat and athletics. I appreciate your feedback, so please feel free to contact my office at (317) 232-9793. To stay updated during the interim, please visit iga.in.gov to live stream committee hearings.

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Rep. Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties