WESTPORT, Conn. -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a new bill into law at Staples High School in Westport that is designed to reduce the number of concussions in youth athletics.
"What we really need to do is make sure we're spending time to get the right diagnosis and the time to make sure that the brain is repairing itself, and that we're not going to interfere with the brain repairing itself and then cause further injury," Malloy said. He said that 13.5 percent of student athletes report having received concussions during sports, and that as a former student athlete himself he understands how easily it can happen.
"It happens in practice, it happens in intramurals, it happens when kids are competing in the FCIAC and we have to be aware of it, and quite frankly we have to take it to a whole other level," he said.
The new law requires the state Board of Education to develop a plan aimed at reducing the number of concussions and to implement proper procedures to dealing with concussions. The law requires that the concussion plan be used by local boards of education, which will use written materials and training on concussions.
Local boards will also be required to collect and report all incidences of concussions in students to the state Board of Education. Coaches will be required to immediately remove any student participating in athletics who displays signs of a concussion or is diagnosed with a concussion. The students must receive written clearance from a healthcare professional trained in the evaluation and management of concussions before they can return to play.
The law was passed with the help of advocate group the Parents Concussion Coalition, which was founded by Westport mothers Diana Coyne, Pippa Bell Adler and Ann Sherwood. All three had children who were athletes whose playing careers were cut short by concussions. They praised the passing of the law after two-and-a-half years of advocacy on its behalf.
"This law is about protecting high school athletes, and they now have basic concussion safety measures that have been in place for most college and professional athletes for years," said Coyne. "We also wanted to pass a message to you from our sons, all of whom were athletes here at Staples: please take these concussions very seriously. Report the concussions, and give your brain time to heal."
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