Gov. Nathan Deal Signed HB284, the Return to Play Act of 2013 April 23, 2013. . 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.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed Georgia’s “Return to Play Act” into law during a ceremony at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Scottish Rite hospital. “Even in a mild bump or blow to the head, it can lead to a concussion,” Said Governor Deal. “These can be serious, but a concussion that goes unnoticed or untreated is far more dangerous.” The governor said the information provided to parents will enable them to make important decisions. “It will give them some assurance that the coaches and those that work with their children will be trained and educated as to what things to look for and to be very, very cautious about returning a child to play that very well could have suffered a concussion or some other form of a brain injury” .
While the legislation requires public recreation facilities to hand out information sheets to parents, it stops short of the other requirements. The governor encouraged those recreational facilities to take the additional steps. “By keeping the public educated and by requiring protective policies in schools throughout the state, we can better keep our youth healthy. And if recreation leagues in Georgia will follow the same guidelines we’ll see even better results,” Deal said.
Georgia joins 43 states with similar laws. Government estimates show hospitals treat some 173,000 traumatic brain injuries among youth that are connected to sports and recreation activities each year. Medical experts say a repeat concussion can slow recovery or increase the chances for long-term health problems that could affect learning and behavior. While rare, a repeat concussion can result in brain swelling or permanent brain damage
The legislation is based on three guiding principles used across the country:
1) Education – Educating parents, athletes and coaches on the risk of concussion
2) Recognition – If a youth athlete exhibits concussion like symptoms, ensure they seek medical attention.
3) 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.
This bill took several years of advocacy, dedication and hard work by the National Football League, Atlanta Falcons and the Georgia Concussion Coalition members (comprised of doctors, lawyers, health care professionals, lawmakers, athletic trainers and parents).
Contact us to learn more about how the Georgia Concussion Coalition can help your youth athletic association be in full compliance of Georgia’s Return to Play Law and develop a comprehensive concussion awareness and prevention program for the athletes you serve.