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The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed a bill aimed at establishing guidelines for the management of concussions among youth athletes. The Safety in Youth Sports Act, which would pertain to high school and junior high athletes, was passed by a vote of 169-29 on Tuesday night. The bill was endorsed by State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York. A few excerpts from the press release:

House Bill 2728 would require that if a high school or junior high school athlete sustains a concussion or brain injury, they could not return to play unless cleared by a medical professional properly trained in concussion management. Additionally, the Safety in Youth Sports Act would require an athlete and their parent or guardian to annually sign a concussion and head injury information sheet prior to the student's participating in practice or competition. DePasquale said this is the most important part of the bill, as it helps increase awareness about the seriousness of brain injuries."Head injuries are a serious matter, and that's why this legislation is so important. We need to do the most we can to protect our kids," DePasquale said. "As a former college football player, I know that kids will do everything they can to stay on the field. The nature of the sport is that mentality and what it takes to be a good football player. However, that same mentality can and does produce long-term health care consequences, which is why we need to do the most we can to protect young athletes from risks that can occur from playing with a concussion. I also applaud the National Football League and Commissioner Roger Goodell, specifically, for being a leader on this issue and helping craft legislation that can be used in each state."
The bill will now go to the state senate for approval. On the surface, this looks like a broad step toward ensuring uniform treatment of concussions in high school and junior high athletics. With a handful of other state legislatures around the country getting involved in the issue, you had to think it was only a matter of time until the Pennsylvania legislature pursued something like this. Interestingly, the emphasis on educating parents falls in line with the overlying message of the concussion forum I attended on Monday. Having this uniform standards in high school and middle school is nice, but what about youth football games (or soccer games, or cheerleading contests), where there might not be a trainer available to test for a concussion? In those scenarios, the parents need to be informed enough to know when to keep their child from returning to play. The bill also deals with a coach's role in concussion management. Specifically, a coach can be punished if he or she doesn't follow return-to-play guidelines. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The first offense, under this act, merits a suspension for the rest of that season. A second violation means a suspension for the rest of that season and the one following. A third strike, and the coach is out -- permanently banned "from coaching any athletic activity."
Interesting, to say the least. What are everybody's thoughts?

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