If it becomes law, coaches for all youth sports will be required to undergo training on how to recognize concussions and brain injuries. And no kid will play until a parent signs off that they’ve received a fact sheet on concussions and brain injuries.
“There will always be athletes who may hide their issues, no matter what the cost, because they want to play,” said Robin Lensch, an athletic trainer with Kettering Sports Medicine who works on the sidelines at Kettering Fairmont High School. “Coaches will be watching out more diligently for them.”
The bill’s requirements mean decisions will be made by medical professionals, she said.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states including Ohio are considering such legislation and 38 states have already adopted such measures. House Bill 143 has support from Children’s Medical Center of Dayton, the National Football League, the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio State Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics – Ohio Chapter.
In 2009, 6,040 kids 18 and younger were seen in emergency rooms for such injuries, up from 2,859 in 2002, according to the state Department of Health.
The bill would introduce new requirements for hundreds of coaches and thousands of players in youth sports sponsored by civic associations and booster groups. The bill includes a carve-out for schools already covered by Ohio High School Athletic Association’s similar rules.
“I do think it might scare some coaches away from volunteering. It might make it feel more like a job. However, I do think it’s important that they understand the symptoms and signs of a concussion,” said Kevin Arcuri, director of coaching for Metro FC, a Dayton-area soccer program with 700 players ages 8 through 23.
The bill calls for mandating:
• No practices or games until parents submit a signed form saying they received a concussion and brain injury information sheet.
• Coaches must pull a player from a game or practice if they suspect the athlete suffered a concussion or brain injury.
• The injured athlete may not return to practice or play until being assessed by a physician or athletic trainer and receiving written clearance.
• Coaches undergo training focused on brain trauma and brain injury management.
• School and volunteer coaches aren’t liable for damages in a civil lawsuit as long as they comply with the training and the injury isn’t the result of the coaches’ willful conduct.
“We all take a risk of injury when you step on a field,” said Beavercreek High School athletic director Jim Smerz. “But if you could prevent a further injury of some kind, that needs to be done.”