Youth Concussion Prevention Bill Passes House Committee

COLUMBUS – Today, with bipartisan support, the House Health and Aging Committee passed HB 143, which seeks to protect young athletes from the harmful effects of traumatic brain injuries. Under the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Rep. Sean O’Brien (D-Brookfield), young athletes and their parents will be educated about the harmful effects of concussions and young athletes will be allowed to return to play only after being cleared by a licensed health care provider.

“Keeping our young athletes safe must be our top priority,” said Rep. Stinziano. “It is clear that risks associated with concussions are greatest when the brain is still developing so great care must be taken. Simple medical guidelines or rules for just high school and middle school student athletes are not enough. By setting a uniformed standard for concussion treatment in sports activities throughout the entire state, we reduce the risk of sporadic enforcement and we ensure that every young athlete has the comprehensive protection they deserve.”

“The key to limiting the number of concussions our young athletes suffer and reducing their impact is awareness,” said Rep. O’Brien. “HB 143 will educate coaches and parents and will lead to better treatment and increase the likelihood of a successful recovery. I thank my colleagues on the Committee for their bipartisan support for HB 143 as a positive step to ensure youth sports in Ohio are safe.”

Millions of young children participate in organized sports in this country every year and emergency rooms are dealing with a growing number of concussions and head injuries among children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency departments treat an estimated 135,000 sports and recreation related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children ages 5 to 18 every year. Children and teens are also more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.

The bill as passed by committee does the following:

- Requires a youth sports organization coach to complete an online concussion management course provided by the Ohio Department of Health.

- Requires a coach to remove a student from play if the student is showing signs or symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. A student athlete who is removed from play due to a suspected brain injury must be cleared by an appropriate licensed healthcare provider.

- Requires a parent or guardian of a student athlete playing school sanctioned sports to sign an information sheet stating that they have reviewed the information provided regarding brain injuries as prepared by the Dept. of Health before that student athlete can participate in practice. Youth sports organizations are required to inform parents of the danger of concussions and traumatic brain injuries by providing them with the information sheet compiled by the Dept. of Health.

HB 143 is part of a national trend by lawmakers across the country to protect young athletes from sports related brain injuries.

To date, 31 states and the District of Columbia have passed student-athlete concussion prevention laws similar to HB 143 and 11 more states have similar legislation under consideration.