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School of hard knocks

January 29, 2014

Legislature promotes concussion management policy for high school athletics

By Will Nations

Head injuries in high school athletics, mainly concussions, have made headlines nationally and now the attention has turned to the state level.
House Bill No. 48, dealing with youth concussions in grades seven through 12 athletics, passed the Mississippi House and Senate and waits on action from Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to enact it into law.
“This bill came through after all the problems and issues were occurring on the professional and collegiate level,” District 37 Representative Gary A. Chism (R) said. “We wanted to extend these protective measures for player safety on the high school and junior high levels. Concussions can happen on anywhere.”
Better known as the “Mississippi Youth Concussion Law,” the act would require public and private schools to implement a “concussion management and return to play policy” for athletes displaying concussion-like symptoms.
“We are doing this simply because of health reasons,” Chism said. “(With) all the information out there (about the damages by head injuries), we needed to take action.”
Through the plan set forth by school’s athletic department, an athlete would have to be released by a health care professional before returning to competition. A school’s athletic department would also have to relay their concussion plan to parents prior to the beginning of an athletic season. The state’s Department of Health will also begin issuing a course to educate citizens on the risks of youth concussions.
When asked about policing of the possible law, Chism said that the two high school athletic associations (MHSAA and MAIS) would incorporate the law into their by-laws.
As any new law raises question, many plans have already been implemented by local athletic departments. All three Clay County schools have already been following similar protocols to HB No. 48. At West Point High School, the coaches and administrators are prepared for the occurrence of any type of head injuries.

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