A bill currently before Connecticut lawmakers — raised as H.B. No. 6722, An Act Concerning Concussions in Youth Athletics — would expand protections to children ages 7-18 in sports outside of school. Under the proposed bill, beginning in 2016, anyone hosting a youth athletic activity would need to provide an annual statement regarding concussions to their athletes and parents or guardians. This statement would include information addressing the signs and symptoms, the means of obtaining proper medical care, the dangers of concussions and the proper protocol for returning an injured athlete back to play. The effect of this bill would not be to create more red tape, but rather to encourage early recognition and response to childhood brain injuries in order to decreasing the incidence of serious injuries.
The bill made headlines over a month ago as Members of the Task Force on Youth Athletics and Concussions, including Silver Golub & Teitell partner, Paul A. Slager, submitted an op-ed to the CT Mirror in support of this much needed piece of legislation. The bill again made headlines as former UCONN quarterback Casey Cochran urged lawmakers to support the bill, which would require parents and student athletes to be informed about the possibility and danger of sports-related concussions. Cochran, who recently quit football after suffering the twelfth concussion of his athletic career, explained that it was a common sense bill that would allow parents and students to be more informed on this issue.
Cochran told the Hartford Courant that after suffering concussions in middle school, high school and college, he would regularly conceal the concussions because he wished to continue playing and fulfill his dreams of having a college and professional football career. H.B. 6722 aims to prevent youth sports participants from having the same experience as Cochrane by educating youth participants, parents and coaches about the signs and symptoms and the potentially dangerous and long-lasting effects of concussions.
The Conference of Connecticut Municipalities has been the only vocal opponent of H.B. 6722, citing liability concerns and concerns that information about the potential dangers of concussions should only be provided by medical professionals. No matter the source or mouthpiece, providing this information and education will create a safer environment for children and will prevent serious injuries, which, in turn, will reduce the likelihood of any liability claims.
As we continue to become more aware every day about the potential danger of concussions, this Bill should pass without challenge. This bill will ensure that youth athletes and their parents or guardians are aware of the signs and symptoms of concussions as well as the dangers they pose to youth participants.
Please follow Casey Cochran’s advice and contact your Connecticut legislative representative to support H.B. 6722. If you are looking for more information regarding this bill, please see the CT Mirror Op-Ed by the Task Force on Youth Athletics and Concussions (http://ctmirror.org/2015/03/05/op-ed-time-to-pass-bill-protecting-young-athletes-from-concussions/) and the Hartford Courant and CT News Junkie articles on Casey Cochran (http://www.courant.com/sports/uconn-football/hc-casey-cochran-uconn-concussions-0430-20150429-story.html and http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/concussion_bill_tackles_awareness_head_on/?utm_source=CTNewsJunkie.com&utm_campaign=ea1b8263a2-MCP_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a493d2308d-ea1b8263a2-92890053).