Senator Newell tackles youth concussions
“Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act” will help keep young athletes safe
(Senator Newell shows her youth concussion training certification at a press conference earlier this month)
DENVER— Today, the Senate gave initial approval to bipartisan legislation to help protect youth athletes from the serious dangers of sports concussions. The bill is named for a Colorado high school athlete who died as a result of multiple concussions. The “Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act” will help keep young athletes safe and ensure that coaches have the training they need.
In 2004, Jake Snakenberg was a freshman football player at Grandview High School. That season he sustained a concussion, but his symptoms were mild and he did not fully understand the nature of his injury. One week later, Jake took another hit, collapsed on the field and never regained consciousness. Jake died from “Second Impact Syndrome” on September 19, 2004.
The bill, Senate Bill 40, is sponsored by Senators Linda Newell (D-Littleton) and Nancy Spence (R-Centennial) and Representatives Nancy Todd (D-Aurora) and Ken Summers (R-Lakewood).
Senator Newell offered the following comment on the passage her bill by the Senate:
“We want children to be able to take advantage of all the benefits of playing sports like developing character, leadership, and self-confidence, while reducing the risks of concussions among young athletes. This bill is designed to ensure coaches, volunteers, and parents have the tools they need to keep kids active and safe.”
Concussions do not occur only in football, and, in fact, can occur in every sport. Colorado emergency rooms see between 1,500 and 2,500 youth athletes for concussions each year*. This number dramatically underestimates youth who sustain concussions but never visit the emergency room. Concussions present more serious dangers to young athletes whose brains are still developing and take longer to recover after an injury. After a young person receives a concussion, it is extremely important that they receive proper treatment. Receiving another impact before a prior concussion has fully healed can lead to permanent injury and disability or, in rare cases, even death.
The best way to protect youth athletes is to make sure coaches and athletic trainers have the training to recognize concussions when they happen. Kids need rest when they’ve had a concussion. While less visible than a broken arm or a sprained ankle, a concussion is an injury to the brain, and every concussion is serious.
SB 40 keeps kids active and safe in three ways:
1) SB-40 ensures that coaches of youth sports get training in how to understand the nature and risk of concussions and be able to recognize the signs and symptoms that indicate a young athlete may have sustained a concussion. Training is free, on-line, and takes about 30 minutes to complete.
2) If a coach suspects that a player has sustained a concussion, the athlete must be removed from practice or play and cannot return that same day.
3) Before returning to practice or play, a player who has been removed due to a suspected concussion must be evaluated by a health care provider and receive written clearance from the provider to return to play. In an effort to ensure access across all parts of Colorado, the bill defines the health care providers that can determine if an athlete is ready to return to play—physicians and neuropsychologists along with physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
Several organizations have worked closely with SB 40’s sponsors. They are the Brain Injury Association of Colorado, The Children’s Hospital, Health One Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children Youth Sports Medicine Institute, and the NFL and the Denver Broncos. Also supporting SB 40 is: the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, the Colorado Association of School Executives, the Colorado Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Colorado Medical Society, Craig Hospital, Denver Health, the Jefferson County School Board, and the Junior League of Denver.
The “Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act” passed on second reading today and awaits final approval by the Senate before moving to the House for consideration.
*Source: Youth Sports Concussion: Recommendations for Enhancing Athlete Safety available at: http://www.biacolorado.org.