Back in 2010, Oklahoma became one of the first states to pass legislation for concussion treatment and management for high school athletes.
And in 2010, that legislation perfectly addressed the needs of the players, based on the knowledge available.
But the science and technology for concussion education has made tremendous advancement in four years, which is why a local group led by Lauren Long and Jeff McKibben is pushing for an update to the state’s concussion legislation.
Oklahoma Senate passed Bill 1790 in February and it is heading to the common education committee of the state House of Representatives in the coming days. If it passes through the committee, it will be heard by the House.
The new bill has more specific requirements for players, athletic trainers, coaches and administrators regarding the management and treatment of concussions to more accurately address the advanced understanding of concussions.
Currently, legislation requires that an athlete suffering from symptoms of a concussion during a game must be removed and cannot return to play until cleared by a licensed medical professional.
“That legislation was exactly what we needed in 2010,” said Long, the co-founder of Concussion Connection, a group dedicated to improving the education, awareness and treatment of sports-related concussions. “But now, it is way behind the times in terms of protocol and management.
“We have worked for the better part of a year researching other state laws and the new information available about concussion treatment to get together the language of what we would like to see in the new legislation.”
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association has fully abided by the law in its policies and added a requirement for coaches to attend a concussion education training course.
“It’s all about educating,” OSSAA executive director Ed Sheakley said. “That’s the focus right now. We want our coaches, officials, parents and students to all be aware of what the signs of a concussion are and be able to deal with it in a helpful and safe manner.”
That is one of the key features of the new bill, which Long and McKibben, the Athletic Training Program Director at the University of Central Oklahoma, developed over the last year.
“The OSSAA has had that as a part of their policy. The language in this bill will make it a law,” Long said. “And it’s not just for coaches. We want referees and officials to be required to do it as well.”