Ohio Law Addresses Sports Concussions

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"If we're going to say that the students and their education and their health comes first then these are appropriate measures to take," says Belpre High School Athletic Director Ken Cox.

Those appropriate measures are four-fold. The law requires all coaches to complete a concussion class.

It also mandates athletes be taken out of a game if they have concussion-like symptoms. They aren't allowed to return to the sport until cleared by a doctor.

"One of the interesting additions is the officials component which now gives the officials the power to remove an athlete from a contest. For example, in football the officials are going to be much closer to the action. much more aware possible of an athlete who's in trouble," says Cox.

But what about off the field? Coaches play a big role in the lives of young athletes, but they aren't always there.

"Sometimes you'll have a student injured with a concussion and not really show those symptoms until later, so mom and dad probably need to be aware of that as well," says Cox.

And now they have to. Another part of the law requires parents and students learn symptoms and warning signs of a concussion.

These have evolved over the years making it that much more important to get educated.

"And it doesn't necessarily mean anymore the lack or loss of consciousness. It can be that they suffer in coordination, lack of mobility, they may be more confused and not know what they're doing. For example, in football we see they jump offside and it's really that they aren't aware of what's going on," says Marietta Memorial Hospital Business Administrator for the Sports Medicine Department Paul Spear.

Recent studies show frightening statistics linked to sports concussions.
While the side effects are more extreme in professional athletes; effects in young athletes can last several weeks.

"When you get more than one concussion the symptoms seem to be sustained longer, it's longer to recover from it and of course we're seeing the effects long term. For example, in a professional athlete wearing finding they have more Alzheimer's, more dementia, and in professional athletes we're also seeing an increase in the number of suicides," says Spear.

Under the watchful eyes of informed adults these young athletes can avoid dangerous, long-term damage.