Bill to protect young athletes proposed

January 15, 2010 5:41:00 PM PST
A new bill to protect young athletes after they get a concussion was proposed by a Hayward lawmaker, and doctors might be involved in the process.

One moment it's an exciting game. The next it's scary, as a young athlete takes a hard hit that knocks him down and leaves him struggling to get up.

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi just introduced a bill that prevents high school athletes with concussions from getting back onto the playing field without written permission from a doctor.

"When you have sports-related concussions, and you don't take enough time to recover from that concussion, we have seen permanent brain damage," she said.

All too often we've seen teens shrug off injuries and get back into the game only a few plays later.

Football player and wrestler Jacob Rodriguez is one of those players.

"A win is a win. If I'm going to go in, then I'm going to play my hardest. If I get injured, I'm going to ice it a little bit on the side, get off for a couple of plays. After that, 'Coach, I'm ready to play,'" he said.

A 2009 study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy found 40 percent of high school athletes who suffer concussions go back to play before it's safe.

High school lacrosse player Tommy Mallon spoke at a Sacramento sports injury summit this week about how he was urged to keep playing until someone diagnosed him with a concussion so serious, he can't play sports ever again.

"I'm so lucky that she was there, as a licensed athletic trainer, to make sure that I stayed down, even though everyone else said I looked fine," he said.

But some kids and parents don't want to wait for a doctor's note. They're willing to take risks because championship titles and college scholarships are on the line.

"Most of the games are over the weekend. So it may take a whole week for you to get a doctor's note, get an appointment and you won't get any time to play at all," Rodriguez said.

Hayashi also has another bill requiring that high school coaches be trained on the symptoms and treatment of sports-related concussions.

Also, State Senator Leland Yee introduced a bill today that would require children under the age of 18 to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding.

Senator Yee's bill is modeled after the existing law requiring minors to wear helmets when they ride a bicycle.

Yee cited a recent study that found half of all skiing deaths are caused by head injury.


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