A proposed bill could soon require schools and other organizations conducting youth athletic programs to adopt concussion policies.
The bill, filed by Sen. Jim Tracy, aims to educate coaches, school administrators, youth athletes and their parents or guardians of the nature, risk and symptoms of concussion and head injuries, including continuing to play after a concussion or head injury.
In addition, the bill would establish as policy that a youth athlete who may have a concussion be removed from play immediately and may not return to the practice, competition or play or participate in any supervised team activities involving physical exertion until the youth athlete is evaluated by a health care provider and receives written clearance for a full or graduated return to play.
Tennessee is currently one of seven states that does not have a policy in place, both doctors and parents hope this bill will keep children safer.
“As it stands right now a professional athlete can't go back in the game but a young soccer player who has a concussion can go back and play the game,” Dr. Andrew Gregory with Vanderbilt University Medical Center told Nashville's News 2.
Dr. Gregory added, “The long term effects of a concussion are still largely unknown, the concern in a child that's different from an adult is that if you were to injure their brain while they're developing, it could affect their potential for development.”
John Higgins, president of the Nashville Youth Hockey League supports this new legislation.
Higgins' 14-year-old son received a mild concussion during a hockey game in January.
“The player lost his edge and my son got hit in the back of the head across the helmet,” Higgins told Nashville's News 2.
The Nashville Youth Hockey League already has their own policies in place for players who receive concussions.
“Play stopped and we had to take a few minutes to get him [Higgins' son] off the ice over to the bench. [He] never went back into the game and we ran through some initial testing and questions that we've been trained in as coaches,” Higgins said, “He sat for the rest of the game and after we went to the emergency room.”
Due to the hockey league's policies, it was a lengthy process before Higgins' son was allowed to play again.
“It's not what's best for the parent or best for the team but what's actually best for the player,” Higgins said.
If the bill passes, it would become law on January 1, 2014.