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Concussion policy bill advances in Senate

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 20, 2013 at 6:13 pm •  Published: February 20, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A student that shows signs of having a concussion would be immediately removed from a sporting event and evaluated under legislation Tennessee lawmakers are proposing.

Schools and other organizations with youth athletic programs would be required to adopt concussion policies under the measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville. It unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and is headed to the Senate floor.

The legislation is similar to laws passed in 42 other states and the District of Columbia that include provisions requiring students to be removed from an event if they show concussion symptoms, such as headaches, dilated eyes or vomiting.

The Tennessee proposal in particular would require schools to adopt guidelines to educate coaches, school administrators, athletes and their parents about the symptoms and dangers of concussions and head injuries. Under the measure, injured students wouldn't be able to resume the sport until a medical professional clears their return.

Coaches and school athletic directors would also be required to complete a type of concussion safety education course developed by the state Department of Health, and that includes a "concussion signs and symptoms checklist" from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This gives us guidelines," said Tracy, a retired NCAA basketball referee who played high school football.

The bill is coming up amid increased attention to the long-term consequences of head injuries in sports.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama said in an interview on CBS during a Super Bowl pre-game show said that, if he had a son, he would have to think about whether he would let him play football.

Obama, who has two daughters, said the threat of concussions for football players means that everything possible should be done to improve their safety — especially players from youth football leagues through college.

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