Michigan Addresses Head Injuries in Youth Sports

Michigan is poised to join the growing list of states addressing head injuries in youth sports.

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign legislation seeking to crackdown on youth concussions and other traumatic brain injury, problems health officials have increasingly documented in recent years.

The legislation would require youth sports coaches to immediately bench any athlete suspected of suffering a concussion, only to be reinstated with a doctor's signoff. It would also require the Michigan Department of Community Health to educate athletes, parents and coaches about head injuries and treatments.

A spokesperson for the Republican governor told the Detroit News Snyder had yet to review the legislation but plans to approve it.

With the governor's signature, Michigan would become one of 39 states to address youth sports concussions through legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. All other states, except for Montana and Arkansas have introduced such legislation in 2012.

The Michigan legislation sailed through the legislature, receiving nearly unanimous support in both chambers. But as Stateline has reported, that hasn't been the experience in every state.

In Ohio, it took multiple hearings and ten rewrites to pass a bill, which has since languished in the Senate, as questions abound about who would make “return to play” decisions and whether young players in rural areas would have quick access to such medical experts.

And despite the broad support in Michigan, some youth sports directors have acknowledged the measures could raise costs for programs or athletes, depending on who foots the bill for required medical exams, the News reports.

The number of emergency room visits by youth suffering from concussions or other traumatic brain injury sustained while playing sports increased by 62 percent from 2001-2009, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control. That rise may be due to heightened awareness about concussions, experts say.

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