[r74] High school athlete concussion bill protects our students (2/13/2014)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Start Date: 2/13/2014 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 2/13/2014
High school athlete concussion bill protects our students

We’re officially in the second stage of this year’s session, where House bills move to the Senate for consideration and debate and Senate bills move over to the House. This session, I am sponsoring Senate Bill (SB) 222, which is an effort to decrease the negative effects concussions have on student athletes, specifically football players, in the House. Having four boys of my own in addition to watching the neighborhood kids grow up to play sports in high school, I am passionate about this bill.   

SB 222 was authored by Senator Travis Holdman and has three main provisions. First, the bill would require that any high school student athlete who’s been removed from play due to a concussion cannot return to play for at least a full day since the incident. Second, it requires head and assistant coaches of high school football teams to complete a concussions safety course once every two years. Finally, the bill also provides civil immunity for coaches who’ve completed the course in certain circumstances.

I believe this bill is the right solution to the ever-present health concerns Hoosier students are facing on the football field. SB 222 builds on top of an existing state law requiring coaches to remove players suspected of having a concussion from play. Although that’s certainly a good law, it’s important to make sure the athlete is healthy before allowing them to return to the field.

There are lots of different types of injuries sustained on the football field, but a concussion is in a special category because of its long-lasting neurological effects it can have, especially while the brain is still developing. Having one concussion makes it easier to get more, so these issues can have a cumulative effect. This bill ensures that high school football players can continue to compete in a safe, healthy way.

Of course, in time we’ll hopefully be able to expand these requirements to other high school sports that incur concussions as well. But it makes sense to begin with football since they have an infrastructure in place to train the coaches in concussion preparedness. I know if my sons choose to play football when they get a little older, I will feel more comfortable knowing there is legislation in place that ensures that they get healthy before heading back on the field and that coaches are knowledgeable about this brain injury.

I think this is a great step forward to promote safety among our high school athletes, and I hope this legislation brings peace of mind to parents of high school football players across our state. If you’d like the most up-to-date information on the status of SB 222 and other legislation, visit www.in.gov/legislative or feel free to call my office at 1-800-382-9841.