Indiana takes step to protect student athletes
Saturday, February 01, 2014 4:00 AM
The national debate about athletic concussions has moved to the Indiana General Assembly.
The Indiana Senate on Thursday approved a needed bill that would add protections for student athletes with concussions and also require additional safety training for coaches.
The measure now moves to the House where we encourage its passing with little debate. We've got to be vigilant in finding ways to protect youngsters from serious injuries that can happen in any sport.
The Senate legislation focused on the most serious of injuries - concussions.
The bill would keep high school athletes with suspected concussions off the field for at least 24 hours. The legislation also would require high school football coaches and assistant coaches to receive training in player safety and head injuries.
To Indiana's credit, much already has been done to prevent injuries. High school athletes and their parents currently must sign a waiver with information about the risk of injury before playing, and athletes pulled for suspected concussions cannot return to play without clearance from a health care provider.
The number of injuries to high school athletes is staggering. Emergency departments treat about 173,285 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries in children each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Numbers are highest in football, with about 55,000 a year, and girls' soccer, with about 29,167.
Fixing the problem will require a combination of legal protections and coach, player and parent training.