New law protects student athletes

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When kids take to the gridiron this fall, there will be a new law their coaches and officials will have to follow aimed at protecting athletes from the dangers of concussions.

Bangs, bruises and football go hand-in-hand. But when it comes to a head injury, the law enacted April 26 is now in place to ensure those injuries receive more attention.

“It’s there to protect kids. It’s there to alleviate pressure maybe on a coach or doctor,” said Tim Stried, Director of Information Services at the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

Under Ohio’s Return to Play Law, coaches and officials must all complete concussion training. If a player exhibits any signs of a concussion, they must immediately be pulled from the game.

“That student athlete will not, under any circumstances, be permitted to come back in and play that day,” Stried said.

The athlete may not return until the next day at the earliest and only after being cleared by a doctor.

“And what this will do is enact the medical team sooner,” said Boardman Athletics team physician Joseph Cerimelli.

According to the Center for Disease Control, concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury, one that lands more than 173,000 children and adolescents involved in sports in emergency rooms yearly. The CDC also reported that in rare cases, repeat concussions can result in swelling of the brain, permanent brain damage and even death.

“And this is why we have more people with an eye open and hopefully they’re a little bit better trained to recognize those signs,” added Cerimelli.

It’s not just coaches and officials who’ll need to know concussion signs and symptoms. Athletes will also need to be aware, something coaches in Lowellville said they are proactive about.

“We post a chart on our one wall over there that talks about the signs and symptoms of a concussion so we try to address it here, and we always tell the kids if they don’t feel right, let the coaches know, and that’s something we really push here,” said Lowellville assistant head coach, Johnny Falconi Jr.

The new law applies to all youth and school related athletic programs.

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