There's a new youth concussion bill before the Georgia House. House Bill 284 is aimed at concussion education and protecting young athletes after they suffer a concussion.
The bill is called the "Return to Play Act of 2013." It would require public and private schools to establish a concussion policy and recreation leagues to provide information on concussions.
The Georgia Concussion Coalition comprised of doctors, lawyers, lawmakers, athletic trainers and parents has pushed for two years to get a youth concussion bill passed.
"We love our football in Georgia. We love sports in Georgia and we just need a mechanism by which we can allow kids to continue to play but protect them as well," GCC co-chair and Emory Sports Medicine Center Dr. Ken Mautner said.
Mautner believes the state needs a concussion law.
"Over the last several years we've learned a lot more about concussions than we've ever known before. A lot of the research shows with cumulative concussion we're starting to run into problems and brain injuries and chronic brain problems down the line," Mautner said.
The Return to Play Act of 2013 before the Georgia Legislature covers all sports and has three main parts. It would educate players, parents and coaches on concussions. If a player is suspected of having a concussion, they must be taken out of a game. And before an athlete can return to play, a healthcare provider must clear them.
"There's a lot of misinformation and unawareness about concussion and I think passing a law like this will bring it into the spotlight, will allow better education, and will ultimately allow protection of our athletes," Mautner said.
Georgia is one of only six states without a youth concussion law. A similar bill failed in the past. Mautner believes this is Georgia's year.
"For whatever reason, the last two years politics has gotten in the way, and it just hasn't made it to the top of the agenda. I think we have the right people in place this year, the right support from the major sports organizations in town and across the country to get this passed," Mautner said.
The bill had a first and second reading in the House. It will need to be passed there before it moves for a vote in the Senate.
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