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Battling concussions: 'Return-to-play' laws kick in

7:05 AM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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Changes are on the way for young athletes as Ohio's Return-to-play law goes into effect Friday.

The new rules take aim at concussions.  All parties, from the coaches, to the referees to parents and students, must be made aware of the symptoms.

Return-to-play applies to students athletes, and other youths 19 and younger who participate in organized or interscholastic activities.

By Friday, coaches and referees will have to have completed a special training program prior to facilitating a sport. This applies to both paid staff and volunteers. 

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is steps ahead of the change. Administrators held a special forum, complete with medical professionals, to inform employees of the change.

"What we try to say is, if you're in doubt sit them out," said Leonard Jackson, Commissioner of CMSD Athletics. 

Under the new law, coaches and referees will have the authority to pull kids out of a game or practice if they suspect the youth to have a concussion.

That student must see a doctor and will not be allowed to return to play until the doctor he or she sees provides written notice that it's okay for the athlete to return. 

It's a process that's designed to help prevent further injury or even death after re-injury in the days and weeks after an athlete suffers a concussion.

As Dr. Kermit Fox with MetroHealth's Concussion Clinic explains. it takes a while to bounce back.

"The more common thing we encounter every day is the kids having difficulty with their school work, focusing. They're trying to get back but can't seem to give it the same effort," said Dr. Fox.

The typical "sit out" period following a concussion is about three weeks. Dr. Fox believes it's a good thing sports facilitators have learned more, and are now legally able to do more if they suspect an athlete has a concussion.

Parents and students must sign off on a form saying they understand the changes in the law, the dangers of returning too soon, and symptoms of a concussion.

  • The symptoms are as follows;
  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Forgets to play
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness
  • Behavior or personality changes
  • Headache or "pressure" in head
  • Nausea or vomiting Double or blurry vision

For a full list of symptoms visit the Center for Disease Control website.

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Follow WKYC's Pamela Osborne on Twitter @PamelaOsborne

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