IL Senator Working on Federal Concussion Law for Student Athletes

Sep 5, 2013

High school sports are back in action across southern Illinois and  the nation, and one newly proposed law is designed to protect those student athletes.

Credit popular science

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is the sponsor of the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act. The proposal would force public schools to immediately pull student-athletes from games or practice if there a concussion is suspected.  States that don't participate would have their federal funding reduced.

Durbin's bill is based on the current system used in Illinois.  The Illinois system is focused on not preventing the initial concussion, but on preventing multiple concussions. Sara Yates is the coordinator of Carbondale based Sportsology sports medicine center; and is also an athletic trainer at Herrin High School.  She says the state's system helps prevent the most catastrophic head trauma:  "that happens when kids return too soon.  It's called Sudden Impact Syndrome... that's when  trauma happens.  You see the ESPN film clips of players collapsing on the field."

Yates also says having repeated concussions in a calendar year can also have long-term effects, such as memory loss and behavioral issues. The National Institutes of Health says sport-related traumatic brain injuries, predominantly concussions, are second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of traumatic brain injury among people aged 15 to 24 years.

Since July 2011, the State of Illinois requires a student athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury in a practice or game to be removed from participation at the time of the injury.  The student athlete must then be assessed and cleared by a physician or certified athletic trainer before the student can return to practice or competition.