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New state law ramps up concussion care at prep, youth level

The handling of concussions has been a hot topic in college and pro sports over the last couple of years. It is also gaining traction at the lower levels.

Going into effect Friday, a new law in Ohio specifies that coaches, officials and referees involved in school and youth sports go through concussion training.

Coaches, officials and referees are now required to complete an online concussion course.

Ohio House Bill 143 also requires a player who sustains a concussion to have written permission from a physician or licensed health care provider before the student-athlete can return to play.

Parents are being reached as well. Youth sports associations, as well as middle and high schools, must now hand out a concussion information form to parents before the season begins.

“I think this will really help with concussion awareness,” said Bellefontaine parks and recreation superintendent Kris Myers. “It is going to help make parents and coaches aware of what exactly a concussion is and how a concussion needs to be treated.”

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has adjusted its concussion regulations, which were first put in place in 2010, to adhere to the requirements of the new state law.

“The major difference now is that if an athlete demonstrates concussion symptoms, they are not permitted to return to play on that day,” said OHSAA spokesman Tim Stried. “Under the previous regulations, an athlete could be cleared by a doctor or certified trainer to go back into a game on the same day the possible concussion was detected.”

The exact definition of a concussion is a brain injury that may be caused by a blow, bump or jolt to the head. Concussions also may occur after a fall or hit that jars the brain.

In a form produced by the Ohio Department of Health, it points out that “a blow elsewhere on the body can cause a concussion even if an athlete does not hit his/her head directly.

Concussions can range from mild to severe, and athletes can get a concussion even if they are wearing a helmet.”

The most common signs of a concussion are headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness.

If an athlete has a hard time remembering where they are at, what happened when they were injured or if they answer questions slowly, a concussion likely occurred.

Athletes and their parents should seek medical attention immediately if concussion symptoms are noted.

More information about concussions is available online at www.healthyohio.org/concussion.

A copy of Ohio House Bill 143 can be viewed at www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=129_HB_143.

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