Bills to Protect Athletes Head to State Senate

After she was treated for a concussion at a local hospital, an emergency room doctor gave the high school athlete a note saying she could return to her sport after one week.

A week later, though, when the school district’s athletic trainer retested her brain to see if it was healed, he found it was not even close to her non-injured baseline score. He benched her until she had an evaluation by a neurologist.

In recent years, more local school districts have taken steps to protect young athletes from injuries, or worse, on the field. Now the Pennsylvania Legislature is considering two bills designed to protect student athletes and increase awareness of brain injuries and undetected heart disorders.

Pennsylvania House members passed the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention and the Safety in Youth Sports Acts last week. Both bills now move to the Senate, which reconvenes next week. The Senate is expected to pass both bills, which could be forwarded to Gov. Tom Corbett before the end of the year. Both will cover middle and high schools and affilated youth sports groups.

Each bill is similar in scope, including mandatory education and training for coaches about the conditions requiring players to be removed from the playing field if they show symptoms, and requiring medical clearance before a student can return to the sport. They would cover students competing in school-related sports including non-competitive cheerleading.

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By Jo Ciavaglia Staff writer