Concussion Law Amendment Riles Supporters

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A one-line item amendment added to Ohio’s budget has some doctors and the co-sponsor of the state’s new Return to Play law concerned.

They say the amendment slipped into the bill could be putting young children at risk when they take to the field.

The Return to Play law went into effect for all youth and high school sporting activities on April 26. The legislation was written last year and Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed it in December.

It requires coaches to go through concussion awareness training online and become certified, which means knowing the symptoms and behaviors that go along with concussions and knowing when to take a player out of the game.

Players and parents also have to a sign a form acknowledging the rules, and coaches can be charged with criminal offenses if they do not have the required training. Athletes need to be medically cleared to return to a game and state law actually prohibits a player from returning on the same day.

Under the law’s current form, children with concussions must be cleared by a medical doctor before they can go back on the field.  But State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Hubbard, who co-sponsored the law, said there could be concern if Ohio’s budget passes in its current form.

“You know you get a high-priced lobbyist to put in an amendment for a certain group that wasn’t cleared to do this and it’s really to make money and it could really put children’s lives in danger,” O’Brien said.

That group is chiropractors, who, if the amendment passes, could give the green light for kids to play again.

Dr. Holly Maggiano, a Howland neurologist, said children should be evaluated by a physician that has been trained in the study of concussions.

“There are certain guidelines that are available and parameters that can be followed, but it depends on whether the child has had other injuries as well because there could be complications long term if it’s not managed correctly,” Maggiano said.

Chiropractor Dr.  Stephen Novicky is familiar with concussions, and he created the Shockstrip for football helmets. He said there is no concern as long as shortcuts are not taken when it comes to a child’s health and well being.

“If they have the formalized training and they understand the Return to Play protocols, then they should be allowed to make that call if they feel comfortable doing so,” Novicky said.

O’Brien said he has nothing against chiropractors, but thinks there are some just trying to beat the system.

“If they have the right training and it’s done right, but this wasn’t done right. This was an attempt to sneak it into the budget and get around the process,” O’Brien said.

He hopes the Senate removes the amendment before the budget heads to the governor’s desk.

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