Gov. Nathan Deal today signed HB 284, the Return to Play Act of 2013, at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. The legislation develops return-to-play policies for youth athletes who are concussed during a game, and it seeks to educate the public on the risks of concussions.
"Even the mildest bump or blow to the head can lead to a concussion," said Deal. "I am proud to sign this bill that serves to protect Georgia's young athletes from sustaining very serious injuries if the condition goes unnoticed or untreated. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that should never be overlooked and we all need to know the symptoms to look for. I am grateful to the NFL, our very own Atlanta Falcons, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the members of the General Assembly who have worked so long to ensure that this legislation was brought to the forefront."
The legislation is based on three guiding principles used across the country:
- Education -- Educating parents, athletes and coaches on the risk of concussion
- Recognition -- If a youth athlete exhibits concussion like symptoms, ensure they seek medical attention.
- Return to Play -- If a youth athlete is deemed to have suffered a concussion by a health care provider, he or she must receive medical clearance before returning to play.
HB 284 requires local boards of education, governing bodies of nonpublic schools and governing bodies of state charter schools to implement a concussion policy with the following components:
- Provide a concussion form to parents and guardians
- Youth athletes shall be removed from the activity if they exhibit signs or symptoms of a concussion
- If a youth athlete is determined to have a concussion, they shall not return to play until they have received clearance from a medical provider
In addition, public recreation leagues are also required to provide a concussion form to parents and guardians, and it is strongly encouraged that they also apply the above components to their programs.
Currently, there are 43 states with youth concussion laws in the country and several other states have pending legislation. This bill is the culmination of several years of work and collaboration between the National Football League, the Atlanta Falcons, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and many dedicated legislators.
According to the CDC, U.S. emergency departments annually treat an estimated 173,285 sports-and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children and adolescents, from birth to 19 years of age.