Is a football helmet always enough?

Concussions among youth athletes has garnered increased attention in recent years. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, over 140,000 high school athletes alone are estimated to suffer a concussion every year.

Researchers will tell you that damage to developing brains from multiple concussions — brain injuries caused by sudden blows to the head or body — or even a mismanaged single concussion can have long-term health effects and implications that lead to a decreased quality of life.

To address this problem, Senate Bill 352 has been brought forth, dictating that coaches and others involved in youth sports complete concussion awareness training at least once every three years.

The legislation was headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature after clearing a final step in the Michigan Senate Tuesday.

The bill would update 2012 concussion laws that required a concussion protocol for youth athletes and an awareness program for coaches, volunteers and others.

However, the legislation would add a requirement that concussion training be completed once every three years, unless the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recommends more frequent training. Also, the state would have to periodically review the training program.

This is crucial. Medical knowledge advances, and people who work in a situation where concussions are likely to occur need to keep up on the latest research. If nothing else, a refresher course is a good idea.

The bill would also clarify that universities and colleges do not need to secure parental waivers for students participating in intramural sports.

Since 2009, 49 states and the District of Columbia have enacted strong youth sports concussion safety laws, with the 50th state, Wyoming, enacting a concussion law in 2011. However, that law includes no provisions requiring parents to sign off on the risks, or automatic removal from a game or practice of a child suspected of having suffered a concussion.

In 2013, Michigan became the 39th state to pass legislation on concussions in youth sports.

The topic is a timely one. A state appeals court in Pennsylvania Tuesday refused to kill a lawsuit by three high school athletes who claim the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association is legally responsible for concussions they suffered playing football and softball.

Many organizations are supporting the new Michigan legislation, including the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, Michigan State University and the Detroit Lions.

We fully support this bill as well. A youth’s developing brain is too precious to leave vulnerable to severe injury.

— The Mining Journal