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Florida's New Brain Injury Law Is A Big Step Towards Safer Sports

In the current environment of partisan politics, a unanimous piece of legislation is often a newsworthy event. Florida passed one such law in October, aimed the equally newsworthy goal of preventing brain injuries for young athletes. This new law illustrates how important it is for school staff to respond appropriately after a student suffers a head injury - anything less can seriously jeopardize the student's long-term health.

Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law on October 12 after it unanimously passed both houses of the Florida legislature. By imposing new rules on school staff, the law seeks to help prevent serious brain injuries in youth sports.

This bill requires staff to immediately remove student athletes from play after a head injury. Instead of taking a break on the sidelines and then getting back into the fray a few minutes later, students have to seek a full evaluation from a doctor before playing again. The law also hopes to increase awareness about the risks of youth sports. It requires parents to sign consent forms before students can even join a team. If more parents understand the potential for brain injuries, hopefully they will be equipped to respond if a child shows post-concussion symptoms.

As brain injuries in youth sports get more and more attention, this bill recognizes how important it is for coaches and other school staff to play a big role in responding to head injuries. If coaches ignore a head injury or allow a player to return to the field, players can be at risk of even more serious consequences. Now that a law recognizes this role, coaches and schools could possibly face liability for not taking a serious approach to their athletes' health.

Source: WOKV.com, "Student athlete concussion bill becomes law," Stephanie Brown, Oct. 12, 2012

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